In 1989, a group of Japanese American WWII veterans established the 100th/442nd/MIS World War II Memorial Foundation to honor their compatriots with a monument.
It would be the first of its kind on the US mainland, filling a gap in American history where many of these Japanese American soldiers remained unrecognized by the government and unknown or forgotten by most Americans.
In 1998, the Foundation broke ground for the monument at the northern end of Central Avenue in the Little Tokyo district in Los Angeles, California. On June 5, 1999, the Go For Broke Monument was presented to the City of Los Angeles.
The dedication ceremony was attended by 1,500 guests, including veterans, their families and friends, business leaders and elected officials.
“The Nisei saved countless lives and shortened the war by two years.”
— Major General Willoughby, General McArthur’s Intelligence Chief, referring to the MIS
Inscription on GFB Monument
The unique design of the Go For Broke Monument is the creation of Los Angeles architect Roger M. Yanagita and construction engineer Bruce Kato.
Yanagita’s design was selected out of 138 entries submitted in a 1991 international competition.
The design inspiration
Details of the Monument
The 40-foot wide circular Monument is centered in a large square of natural paved stone. The approach to the Monument is a checkered design of grass and granite, while a band of grass encircles the entire base.
In front of the semicircle is a granite replica of the 442nd RCT shoulder sleeve insignia. Its lithochrome image features a raised arm firmly grasping a lit torch against a blue background with bold red and white borders. The American flag flies from a pole that stands immediately behind the shoulder patch, at the center of the Monument.
Two clusters of granite pillars inscribed with the names of the Monument’s contributors, supporters and Medal of Honor recipients, stand silently on opposite corners of the square surrounding the Monument.
Palm trees are grouped behind the wall of names with pairs of trees arranged around the circle. Originally, the Monument featured Japanese plum trees. A kiosk in the southwest corner welcomes visitors to search for the names of specific veterans on the Monument.
“My fellow Americans, we gather here today to right a grave wrong… Now let me sign HR442.”
— President Ronald Reagan, Civil Liberties Act of 1988
Inscription on GFB Monument
Above each of the 30 panels inscribed with names are two insignias representing the various Divisions units and battalions within the 100th Infantry Battalion (Separate), 100th/442nd Regimental Combat Team and Military Intelligence Service were attached to throughout the war.
Angled towards the southwest, the Monument faces the sun as it travels across the southern sky. While the circle of grass signifies Earth, its grass and granite checkerboard base represents the lines of latitude and longitude. In its entirety, the circular base thus symbolizes “the world at war.”
The shoulder sleeve insignia features the torch of liberty. Its flame burns in remembrance of those lost in battle.
The original Japanese plum trees planted at the Monument’s rear signified the innocence of youth and the transience of happiness. When in bloom, they symbolized rebirth and triumph over adversity.
The trees stood as a tribute to the young Nisei soldiers who fought against overwhelming odds for justice and equality for themselves, their families and America.
In 2015, palm trees replaced the Japanese plum trees. The palm trees honor the many Japanese American soldiers who came from Hawai՝i.
“Never in military history did an army know as much about the enemy prior to the actual engagement…”
— General Douglas McArthur, Supreme Commander, Pacific Theater, referring to the MIS