Nisei Veterans Legacy (nvlchawaii.org/), which, since its start in 2012, has aimed to “preserve, perpetuate, and share the legacy of Americans of Japanese Ancestry (AJA) who served in the U.S. armed forces in World War II,” appointed three new advisors at the end of June.
Past president and executive director of the Ja-panese Cultural Center of Hawai‘i Jacce Mikulanec; estate planning and trust administration attorney Jennifer Okubo Polido, formerly of First Hawaiian Bank’s personal trust division; and Major General Suzanne P. Vares-Lum, mobilization assistant to the commander of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command at Camp Smith were all asked to join the non-profit’s team. The Legacy creates programs that use the histories of Second World War Nisei veterans — most notably, the 100th Infantry Battalion, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, the Military Intelligence Service and the 1399th Engineer Construction Battalion — to teach younger generations to understand “how they [these Nisei vets] re-shaped the social, political and economic fabric of our islands into the vibrant state it is today.”
Legacy president Lynn Heirakuji says of these accomplished additions to her organization, “We’re very pleased to welcome these three professionals to further diversify our advisory group. Their fresh, new voices and perspectives will help us carry on our organization’s mission of perpetuating the war and post-war contributions of our Nisei Soldiers, today and for future generations.”
The newly minted NVLers join the ranks of fellow advisors Jim Hirai, Warren Haruki, Gary Okuda and Barbara Tanabe, whose powerful collective understanding of JA community history helps the Legacy plan its future activities, guiding it alongside the board of directors.
Mikulanec, a board member of Manoa Valley Theatre and Gregory House, sat on Honolulu City and County’s Grant in Aid Advisory Commission from 2013-15, and was appointed to the Hawaii Supreme Court Committee on Equality and Access to Courts in 2018.
Vice chair of the Hawaii State Bar Association probate and estate planning section as well as vice president of the Hawaii Estate Planning Council, Okubo Polido is a member of the Hawaii State Bar Association’s elder law section which she has chaired in the past.
Vares-Lum, a distinguished graduate of the Military Intelligence Corps via the University of Hawai‘i ROTC, has been a commander of the 298th Regiment’s multifunctional training unit and a chief of the joint staff (Army and Air National Guard) in the Hawaii National Guard.
NVL programs include a Learning Center, which provides historical information on the four major military units commonly employing Nisei soldiers and workers during World War II (nvlchawaii.org/learning-center). It also sponsors exhibits such as the Honolulu Airport Nisei Veterans Exhibit in the Ewa Concourse of the airport’s International Terminal, which briefly summarizes the stories of the 100th, 442nd and MIS and presents features on distinguished former members such as Sen. Spark Matsunaga, Sen. Daniel Inouye and Gov. George Ariyoshi.