LOS ANGELES, Jan. 28, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Against the contemporary backdrop of the immigration debate and family separation, of nationality-based travel bans and ultimately, the debate over what it means to be a loyal American, a trio of Japanese American artists has created and will publish 442, a graphic novel that recounts the experiences of members of their families and of their community who served in the combat regiment that became the most decorated unit in the history of American warfare.
Made possible by a grant from the California Civil Liberties Act, 442 literally follows in the footsteps of the second generation, or Nisei soldiers, U.S. citizens who enlisted for wartime service as proof of their loyalty to the United States.
Written by Koji Steven Sakai and Phinneas Kiyomura, and illustrated by Rob Sato, 442 is available through the mobile phone subscription service Stela and will soon be available in a print edition in full color. Printed copies will also be made available to educators, librarians, museum directors, and students in an effort to share this remarkable – and uncannily relevant -- chapter in American history with a wider audience.
Approximately 3,000 copies of 442 will be donated to the Go For Broke National Education Center in Little Tokyo.
"Even though my father had been imprisoned in the camps, I was only vaguely aware of the 442nd until I was well into adulthood. When I dug into the details -- with Koji and Rob -- it was both exciting and saddening to learn this history," notes Kiyomura.
Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, mandating that all Americans of Japanese descent and immigrant-born Japanese would be forcibly relocated to internment camps.
The 442nd regimental combat unit consisted almost entirely of Japanese Americans, many of whom had been interned and who had families who were still interned. They had to answer a loyalty questionnaire, including: would Nisei men be willing to serve on combat duty whenever ordered?
Ironically, the overwhelming majority of those who were asked these questions had never even set foot in Japan.
Comprised of 12 chapters, 442 chronicles in vivid detail the journey of the Nisei combat unit in the Battle of Vosges, one of the most dramatic and consequential battles in the European theater of World War II. The reader is transported to the scene, enlivened by the intense sights and sounds of battle as the 442nd carries out their mission of liberating another unit, the Texas 141st infantry division, that is all but doomed.
Ultimately, the 442nd, which totaled 14,000 troops who served – the original 4,000, with two sets of replacements - was awarded 9,486 Purple Hearts, 24 Medals of Honor, and 8 Presidential Citations.
"The World War II Nisei soldiers risked everything—most importantly, their lives--so that my family's loyalty would never be questioned. I've made it my life's work to make sure people honor and remember their many sacrifices," states Sakai.
Sato echoes this sentiment about the incredible sacrifices his family faced. "My entire life I've questioned whether or not I could have endured the injustice of the Incarceration the way my great grandparents did, or if I could have joined the 442nd like my grandfather, who fought for the country that put my family in prison for their race."
Again, the parallels to searing contemporary issues are manifold, and Sato believes the re-telling of the story of the 442nd may provide much-needed clarity on challenges the country now faces. "As fewer and fewer of those who experienced it firsthand remain in the world, I hope these stories remain very much alive. The decades-long demonization of an immigrant group that ultimately led to scapegoating on a massive scale could not be more urgently relevant to current events. This history should be a part of our collective human knowledge -- not for wallowing in pity, but to arm minds against xenophobia and fear mongering."
442 by Koji Steven Sakai, Phinneas Kiyomura and Rob Sato | Little Nalu Pictures | ISBN: 9780692156766 |
Press Contact: Rita Hollingsworth/RMH Media
213-361-2736 or firstname.lastname@example.org
SOURCE Little Nalu Pictures (LNP), LLC