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History

Oral histories are recorded with studio-quality camera and sound equipment, and video clips from our collection have been used by the Smithsonian Institution, National Park Service, Japanese American National Museum, Museum of Tolerance, and in many film documentaries, exhibits, and newscasts.

A mission of profound significance

In 1986, a group of Japanese Americans who had served in military units during World War II - despite overwhelming prejudice against them - embarked on a mission that would prove to be one of the most important and rewarding missions of their lives.

Co-founders Col. (Ret.) Young Oak Kim (left) and Buddy Mamiya were on a mission, with the help of fellow veterans, to build a lasting tribute to the Japanese American soldiers who served in World War II.

Led by Colonel (Ret.) Young Oak Kim and Yoshio Buddy "Y.B." Mamiya, the group sought to bring recognition to the Nisei men who had served with them. The national loyalty of these Nisei had been questioned during wartime. The impact of this distrust on their lives, and the lives of those around them, had been devastating, and was still felt. Yet despite this, these men had far surpassed the challenge to their allegiance through acts of extraordinary valor.

Nearly forty years after the war's end, they remained largely unacknowledged by the government and unknown to most Americans.

A decade of dedication

In 1989, the 100th/442nd/MIS World War II Memorial Foundation was established. Over the next ten years, the Foundation worked tirelessly to raise awareness about the Nisei veterans. They held their first teachers' training workshop, began an oral history program, and through a grassroots movement, raised funds for a monument to honor their fellow Nisei veterans.

A monumental task accomplished

On June 5, 1999, the Go For Broke Monument was dedicated in Los Angeles. Reflecting their motto to "go for broke," or give it their all, the granite monument remains a striking tribute to the Nisei soldiers who fought overseas in World War II. With the monument in place, the Foundation shifted its focus to preserving the veterans' histories so that others might learn from their experiences.

In 1998 the iconic shape of the Go For Broke Monument began to take form. A determined, 10-year grassroots effort by hundreds of veterans and their families had raised $3 million for the monument's design and construction.

A focus on education

Today, the Foundation, renamed Go For Broke National Education Center, continues its work of educational outreach to share the legacy of the Nisei veterans.

Collaborating with organizations that share our vision, including the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles, the Japanese American National Museum, the National Veterans Network, and Japanese American veterans clubs throughout the country, we continue to promote educational programs about the Japanese American World War II experience. Through these life stories, we hope to inspire today's generation and those of tomorrow to live the core values embodied by these Nisei soldiers: courage, humility, self-sacrifice, integrity, equality, patriotism.


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