Go for Broke Monument
The Go For Broke Monument in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles, California, commemorates Japanese Americans who served in the United States Army during World War II. It was created by Los Angeles architect Roger M. Yanagita whose winning design was selected over 138 other submissions from around the world.
Design and construction of the monument commenced in 1991 with the dedication occurring on June 5, 1999. It is located at the end of North Central Street, adjacent to the Japanese American National Museum, and is surrounded on three sides by a pay-parking lot serving East Temple Street. The monument is accessible by the public at no cost.
The monument has a large semicircular face of polished black stone, set at an angle facing the sun as it travels across the southern sky, and embracing a pole upon which the American flag flies. The monument's curved back wall lists the names of 16,126 nisei soldiers. At the foot of the flag is the shoulder flash of the all-Nisei 442nd Regimental Combat Team.
Across the top of the face is the motto: "Go For Broke" and below that are the insignia of the segregated, all-Nisei Army units: the famed 100th Infantry Battalion and 442nd Regimental Combat Team, as well as lesser-known nisei units, the Military Intelligence Service, 522nd Field Artillery Battalion, 232nd Combat Engineer Company, and the 1399th Engineering Construction Battalion.
The monument's main feature, a large inscription on the face, describes how they served even as they were being deprived of their constitutional rights during the period of forced removal and incarceration. This inscription uses the term concentration camps to describe the facilities then officially called relocation centers. The inscription is attributed to 100th Infantry Battalion veteran Ben Tamashiro, best known for his more than 60 appearances in television advertisements for the Bank of Hawaii. According to his 2004 obituary in the Honolulu Advertiser and Honolulu Star-Bulletin:
After a nationwide search failed to elicit an appropriate inscription, his former commanding officer — Col. Young Oak Kim, who was in charge of the project — wrote to Tamashiro, according to his daughter. The words Tamashiro sent back were the ones chosen — with a single change. Instead of "internment camps" as he had written, the inscription was changed to "concentration camps."
Interpretive information is available from the Japanese American National Museum and a kiosk beside the monument. Also, the monument is often attended by veterans of the nisei units, who explain the monument and the events of World War II, and answer questions.
GO FOR BROKE – An American Story
Rising to the defense of their country, by the thousands they came – these young Japanese American soldiers from Hawaii, the states, America's concentration camps – to fight in Europe and the Pacific during World War II. Looked upon with suspicion, set apart and deprived of their constitutional rights, they nevertheless remained steadfast and served with indomitable spirit and uncommon valor, for theirs was a fight to prove loyalty. This legacy will serve as a sobering reminder that never again shall any group be denied liberty and the rights of citizenship. – Ben H. Tamashiro
Quotations below the main inscription
You not only fought the enemy . . . you fought prejudice and won. – President Harry S. Truman as he welcomed the 100/442 RCT home
Never in military history did an army know as much about the enemy prior to actual engagement – General Douglas MacArthur, Supreme Commander, Pacific Theater, referring to the MIS
My fellow Americans, we gather here today to right a grave wrong . . . now let me sign H.R. 442. – President Ronald Reagan, Civil Liberties Act of 1988
The Nisei saved countless lives and shortened the war by two years – Charles A. Willoughby, General MacArthur's Intelligence Officer, referring to the MIS
- Kakesako, Gregg K. (2000-04-05). "Changes On The Way For Hawaii Army National Guard". Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Retrieved 2008-08-22.
- "Ben Tamashiro, 'Harry' in Bankoh ads, dead at 86 - The Honolulu Advertiser - Hawaii's Newspaper". the.honoluluadvertiser.com.
- "About Us: The Monument - Inscription". Go For Broke National Education Center. 2008. Archived from the original on 2008-08-30. Retrieved 2008-08-22.