Memorial Day – A Memorial Day Reminder

Memorial Day – A Memorial Day Reminder

Photo of Frances Kakugawa

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.

HAMBURG, GERMANY

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

Frances Kakugawa was her mother’s primary caregiver during her five-year journey with Alzheimer’s disease. A native of Kapoho on the Big Island of Hawai‘i, she now lives in Sacramento, Calif. Frances has melded her professional training as a writer and teacher and her personal experiences as her mother’s caregiver to write several books on caring for people with memory-related illnesses, including one for children. Frances is a highly sought-after speaker, both in Hawai‘i and on the Mainland, sharing strategies for caregiving, as well as coping with caregiving.

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