Book Review – “My Life’s Journey” A Veteran’s Memoir Recounts the Story...

Book Review – “My Life’s Journey” A Veteran’s Memoir Recounts the Story of A Generation

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Family photo of three generations of the Tsukiyama family, headed by Ted and Fuku Tsukiyama.

Image of book cover, My Life's Journey, by author Ted T. Tsukiyama

Gerald Kato
Commentary
Special to The Hawai‘i Herald

Gerald Kato is an associate professor and chair of the University of Hawai‘i at Mänoa’s School of Communications. He is a former newspaper and broadcast journalist who covered government and politics in Hawai‘i for many years. Kato also served as an interviewer on the oral history project for the late U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye.

Photo of Ted Tsukiyama with Kachin tribespeople, who were America’s allies in Burma in World War II.

Ted Tsukiyama with Kachin tribespeople, who were America’s allies in Burma in World War II.

As a young boy, Ted Tsukiyama was cast in an Ali‘iolani Elementary School Thanksgiving Day play as Captain Miles Standish, commander of the Plymouth Colony, a representative American who founded and forged the shape of the country. The experience made a deep and lasting impression on Tsukiyama — so much so that it came as a shock years later, in the weeks after Japan’s Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor, that he and other Japanese Americans serving in the Hawai‘i Territorial Guard were told they were being discharged.

“We were hit with the painful reality that we Japa-
nese Americans were being rejected and disowned by our own country, just because we bore the face of the enemy,” Tsukiyama wrote in his newly released memoir, “My Life’s Journey.”

“This crushing blow was, to us, far worse than the attack on Pearl Harbor. It never had occurred to us that our status and loyalty as Americans would be doubted or challenged. As I said, in my mind I was descended from Captain Miles Standish. We were shocked and angered that our country had been ruthlessly attacked by Japan but we were proud that we had been given guns to defend our country.

“Suddenly we were declared suspect, unacceptable, unwanted and distrusted.”

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Siblings Ted and Martha Tsukiyama with their Kaimukï neighbors in 1926. From left: Bobby Metcalf, Martha Tsukiyama, Donald Napier and Ted Tsukiyama. (Photos from “My Life’s Journey”)Siblings Ted and Martha Tsukiyama with their Kaimukï neighbors in 1926. From left: Bobby Metcalf, Martha Tsukiyama, Donald Napier and Ted Tsukiyama. (Photos from “My Life’s Journey”)

Siblings Ted and Martha Tsukiyama with their Kaimukï neighbors in 1926. From left: Bobby Metcalf, Martha Tsukiyama, Donald Napier and Ted Tsukiyama. (Photos from “My Life’s Journey”)

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