Frances H. Kakugawa
Special to The Hawai‘i Herald

“The Go For Broke Spirit: Portraits of Courage” is poetry that preserves the humanity of man. I first looked at the photos without reading the text and was driven to my gut with emotions. The portrait accompanying each story is a novel in itself — each man’s silent story of honor and dignity is deeply embedded in the seasoned lines on his face, in his hands and in his eyes. You can’t help but be drawn to the text, knowing that it compounds the powerful photos with their stories. This is accomplished with poetic precision and inspiration. Both photos and texts powerfully tell the stories of these young Japanese American men who fought for their country while their families lived in internment camps. Veterans from Hawai‘i and the West Coast are represented in the book.

More than 80 veterans’ portraits and their stories are preserved in this hardcover book. If this part of our history is to be preserved, it must be through the generations following not only these brave and honorable men, but all others, as well. This book must become a legacy for generations to come so the lessons learned about honor, bravery, dignity, patriotism, and human kindness can be lived and practiced by all of us. We owe this to these brave men and their families and to the Issei generation who began this story. There is no enemy, no hatred, no racism — only ignorance, and this can be dealt with as told by each veteran.

The Japanese cultural practices of gaman (to accept that which cannot be changed), on (obligation) and gambatte (perseverance) are constant in how they processed the indignities of war and racism. The stories told by these Japanese American men must be universally shared to end all wars and man’s inhumanity to man. Simply, fill each household with a copy of this book.

The Go For Broke Spirit: Portraits of Courage” was created by Shane Sato, whose photographs are featured in the book. The book can be purchased online at: For more information on the book, contact Shane Sato at (213) 820-1692.

Frances H. Kakugawa is a poet, author and retired schoolteacher. She also writes the “Dear Frances” column on caregiving in The Hawai‘i Herald.


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