Frances H. Kakugawa
Special to The Hawai‘i Herald
There’s a piece of unfinished business in my memory that I want to share with the 100th Infantry Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team veterans on behalf of a stranger in Germany.
When I was visited Germany years ago, an old woman looked at me and began to weep. She reached out her hand to me. When I went to her, she took my hand, kissed it and began to speak in German, tears rolling down her face. Her grandson explained that I reminded her of the Hawai‘i soldiers who were so kind to her during World War II. Was I from Hawai‘i? Yes, I told her, and I know those soldiers.
For the first time in my life since Pearl Harbor, my face was greeted with tears of joy because of the 100th/442nd soldiers.
As a result, in my forthcoming poetry book, I included the following poem to honor the Japanese American soldiers who are still remembered and honored for their humanity while many of their families were in internment camps back home.
In the Philippines,
World War II follows me into the night.
“Stay indoors after dark, people still remember
Japanese soldiers on Corregidor.”
My sixth-grade student writes in his journal
“December 7: I hate the Japs. I wish they were all dead.
My grandfather told me about them.”
In Hamburg, a woman, lined with age
Holds my hand and weeps to me in German.
I remind her of soldiers from Hawaii.
She has not forgotten their kindness long ago.
Our tears taste the same
In German and in English.
We are the only ones standing
In the aftermath of wars.
— From: “Dangerous Woman: Poetry for the Ageless” by Frances H. Kakugawa