Today, I had the privilege of connecting with students from Ohio during a Virtual Field Trip to talk about the contributions and sacrifices of Senator Daniel Inouye, who passed away yesterday of respiratory complications. Inouye was in his 49th year of service as Senator from Hawaii and was a WWII veteran of the “Go for Broke” 442nd Regimental Combat Team.
Inouye vividly remembered the attack on Pearl Harbor, and rushed to help as a medical volunteer in the aftermath. Once the ban was lifted on Japanese Americans in the military, Inouye enlisted and soon rose to the rank of platoon leader. In the last months of the war, Inouye lost his arm while attacking a machine gun nest. His right arm was severed by German fire as he was attempting to throw a hand grenade. He pried the grenade out of his right hand and threw it with his left into the nest. For his actions that day, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.
In our Virtual Field Trip about Japanese Americans in WWII, we specifically discuss Inouye’s sacrifices and the eventual upgrade of his award to the Medal of Honor. During the war, only one Japanese American was awarded the Medal of Honor. Over fifty years later, a study revealed twenty-two Asian American soldiers were denied the Medal due to racism, including Senator Inouye. During the videoconference, we listen to the President’s speech at the award ceremony in 2000, where he says of these deserving men, “They didn’t give up on our country, even when too many of their countrymen and women had given up on them.”
Inouye never turned his back on his country, especially when he enlisted and served while fellow Japanese Americans were being interned on the U.S. mainland. Connecting with students to talk about WWII history is rewarding, as they understand the sacrifices of American soldiers and citizens alike. These lessons are especially meaningful to students when they learn about Senator Inouye and other selfless WWII veterans.
Posted by Chrissy Gregg, Virtual Classroom Coordinator