Memorial Day 2016 will be more about the unofficial beginning of Summer than what the holiday is supposed to represent.
Instead of going to the beach or taking advantage of Memorial Day sales, the day is this nation's tribute to the 1,364,664 men and women who have lost their lives in military service; from the deadliest of our conflicts, the American Civil War that cost 750,000 lives, through the on-going Iraq-Afghanistan Wars in which 6,717 lives have been lost thus far.
Today's program focuses on the 442nd Regimental Combat Team which served in Europe during World War II.
The unit was made up of men of Japanese ancestry, most of them American citizens and many of them from Southern California, who volunteered for combat duty in Europe.
The 442nd was originally comprised of about 4,000 men. Because of deaths, casualties and the escalation of the war effort, more than 14,000 Japanese-American soldiers served in the 442nd during World War II; 9,486 of them were awarded Purple Hearts.
Because of the 442nd's reputation for heroism, oftentimes when it was vastly out-numbered and seriously disadvantaged, the unit's slogan became "Go For Broke."
While the men of the 442nd were at war, their families were herded into internment camps in the U.S. under Executive Order 9066 signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt after the attack at Pearl Harbor. One of the largest of those camps was at Manzanar (www.nps.gov/manz/index.htm
) on Highway 395 in California's Owens Valley, 210 miles north of Downtown Los Angeles.
A large national monument at the site pays tribute to the families forced to live there for the duration of World War II.
The Go For Broke National Education Center (www.goforbroke.org
) and the Go For Broke monument are in the heart of the Little Tokyo District of Downtown Los Angeles. A few steps away is the Japanese American National Museum (www.janm.org
Both institutions offer intensive, immersive exhibits about the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and the history of Japanese-Americans in the United States.