I am writing in the hopes that you might correct a grievous oversight in Hollywood: the lack of recognition of the contributions of Japanese Americans during and after the Second World War. Specifically, the heroic actions of the men who served and died in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team/100th Infantry Battalion, and the “No-No Boys” who protested their internment in one of the only ways available to them.
There hasn’t been a Hollywood film of the 442nd since 1951’s Go For Broke!, headlining the white actor Van Johnson, and the protests of the No-No Boy has never been portrayed on film. The experience of those heroic individuals is uniquely American, and one which needs to be told, especially now, with our country split by xenophobia and where racism has become a part of national politics. We all need a reminder that patriotism comes in all colors and forms, through both fighting and protest.
The 442nd is the most decorated unit for it’s size and length of service in American history. It’s members have received 21 Medals of Honor, 8 Presidential Unit Citations, 52 Distinguished Service Crosses, 560 Silver Stars, 4,000 Bronze Stars (with 1,200 Oak Leaf Clusters), and 9,486 Purple Hearts. It also had one of the highest casualty rates of any unit during the war. The 4,000 man unit was replaced nearly two and a half times over. Their courage extended far beyond the battlefield as they showed integrity and compassion towards the plight of blacks during training in the Jim Crow south. And while other stories of the War have been told, and are continuing to be told, theirs have gone ignored and largely forgotten. This is not just an injustice to those brave Americans, but is depriving us all of a vital part of our national identity.
I believe that you are the only ones in Hollywood with the clout, creativity, and heart to bring their story to the screen, whether it is in the form of a major motion picture, or, preferably, another Band of Brothers mini-series.
I know you would face many serious hurdles in getting something like this produced, but I entreat you to do everything you can before the last of those who served and fought so bravely, whichever side of the fence they were on, are gone forever, and their sacrifice becomes nothing more than a footnote in American history.
P.S. I have started a petition on Change.org toward encouraging the production of a movie or series. Please add your voice to mine to correct this injustice!
442nd Regimental Combat Team: Japanese Minds, American Hearts; Duane Vachon, Hawaii Reporter, 3 July, 2016