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LOCAL WATCH : Veterans At War

It’s sad: Once soldiers side by side. Now veterans waring among themselves.

Who should be listed on a proposed L.A. monument to American soldiers of Japanese ancestry? The question threatens a community project designed to honor those who served in three segregated World War II units.

One group wants the privately funded monument in Little Tokyo to list the names of all 12,000 members--living and dead--of the Army’s all-Japanese-American 100th Battalion and 442nd Infantry Regimental Combat Team, which served in Europe, and the Military Intelligence Service in the Pacific. An opposing group wants to honor only the 700 killed during World War II, but to include the names of 325 Japanese-Americans who died during the Spanish-American War, World War I and the Korean and Vietnam conflicts.

The debate is muddling the intent of the monument: To make a special acknowledgement of the blood, sweat and tears of those Japanese-American soldiers who fought hard to prove their loyalty to the United States so their families, unjustly interned in U.S. concentration camps during the war, would be more readily accepted by other Americans.

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They were tested as few others were. They deserve an enduring testimonial--one designed with the names of all the Japanese-Americans who served in World War II as the centerpiece of the monument. The design also could incorporate secondarily the names of others who died in combat.

They don’t deserve to be fought over like this.


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