World War II
"Go for Broke" - the Nisei Warriors

"Go for Broke" - the Nisei Warriors
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 7 to 9
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   6.42

     challenging words:    enemy-held, non-combat, Stillwell, aftermath, designation, platoon, hilltop, onward, head-on, desertion, hereby, battered, blazed, valor, dignity, regiment
     content words:    Pearl Harbor, World War II, West Coast, Japanese Americans, Japanese American, After Pearl Harbor, Hawaiian Japanese, United States, In Hawaii, Governor Emmons

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"Go for Broke" - the Nisei Warriors
By Toni Lee Robinson

1     On December 7, 1941, calamity elbowed its way into paradise. Without warning, the sunny skies of Hawaii filled with Japanese warplanes. Mercilessly, the bombers attacked the naval base at Pearl Harbor. The U.S. plunged headlong into World War II.
2     On the home front, shock gave way to a grim mixture of fear and outrage. A cloud of suspicion darkened American skies. Hawaii was a melting pot of Pacific cultures. More than a third of its people were Japanese. On the mainland, over 112,000 people of Japanese descent lived on the West Coast. In the aftermath of the bombs, a big question loomed. Where did the loyalties of Japanese Americans lie? Could they be the "enemy within"?
3     The military was the first to act on this suspicion. Japanese American soldiers were discharged. The veterans were stung by this rejection. After Pearl Harbor, they felt they had the most to prove. A petition was sent to Hawaii's governor. In it, 155 Hawaiian Japanese veterans stated:
"... the United States [is] our country. We know but one loyalty and that is to the Stars and Stripes. We wish to do our part as loyal Americans...we hereby offer ourselves for whatever service you may see fit to use us."
4     Finally, the young Japanese were heard. In Hawaii, they were given support roles in the Guard. They performed with dignity and great dedication. Governor Emmons' reports to Washington praised the young soldiers. His enthusiasm was convincing. In June, 1942, 1,300 young Japanese were sent to the mainland for training. They joined the 2nd Army as the 100th Infantry Battalion. Their motto? "Remember Pearl Harbor."
5     Meanwhile, all U.S. Japanese were forced to move from West Coast states. Men, women, and children were relocated to isolated camps in various parts of the nation. Later these detainees were also given the option of non-combat service. The young men flocked to sign up. These second generation Japanese, called Nisei (nee SAY), were American citizens by birth. They, too, wanted to prove their loyalty. They served faithfully in whatever tasks they were given. Their true desire, however, was to be allowed to fight for their country.

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