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Museum recognizes ‘Heroes Unheralded’

The History Museum of Hood River County will recognize “Heroes Unheralded,” local people who stepped forward on behalf of Japanese Americans subjected to systematic community prejudice during World War II.

Although all have since died, the museum will posthumously honor those whose descendants are able to join in. Notable author Linda Tamura will preside over the program for this day of celebration. She will be sharing stories related to her recent book, “Nisei Soldiers Break Their Silence” as well presenting history related to our “unheralded heroes.” Certificates of recognition will be presented to honorees descendants as well.

During World War II, the community of Hood River gained national notoriety for discrediting Japanese American war heroes.

Residents removed the names of Japanese American GIs from their community honor roll and proposed a constitutional amendment to deprive them of their citizenship. More than 1,800 signed petitions to discourage these Japanese American citizens and their families (who had been incarcerated in wartime camps on American soil for as long as three years) from returning to their homes and farms after the war.

In the face of this overwhelming community sentiment, a small number of selfless and courageous individuals stepped forward.

Facing a tide of pressure and prejudice, they were subject to public censure themselves. Yet, these ordinary citizens demonstrated principles of justice and decency.

Some spoke out against unfair treatment toward those of Japanese ancestry. Others helped Japanese Americans to purchase goods or market their boycotted crops. Individually they befriended Japanese Americans with everyday acts of good will.

While these principled Americans acted without seeking thanks or recognition, the History Museum of Hood River is honoring their selflessness. These ordinary folk demonstrated a true American spirit during extraordinary times. In our increasingly diverse society, they inspire faith and hope for children and adults alike. We are proud to take this opportunity to honor these unheralded community heroes.

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