Making History Come Alive

Jimmie Kanaya in Uniform

I have spent the past 7 or 8 months immersed in World War 2 conducting research for my current novel, which I’m happy to say is nearing completion! Nothing brings the war to life for me more than first hand accounts. One amazing person from the war that I’ve come across was a medic named Jimmie Kanaya. While his family was living behind barbed wire in one of the 10 Internment Camps built to house displaced citizens of Japanese descent during the war, Jimmie fought with the 442nd division and was captured by the German Army. During his time in POW camps, he kept a journal documenting his experiences. He also speaks on film in a short video on The History Channel website.

I am in awe of this man’s spirit and courage. It is one thing to read about history in a text book, but to listen to a man speak about his own personal experiences is to become a part of the experience. As a nation, our stories all weave together–what effects one group of our citizens ultimately has an impact on everyone. Native Americans of old were much more in tune with this knowledge than we are today. For instance, take this quote from Chief Seattle: “Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.”

My heart is filled with gratitude to the countless Americans who fought with courage in wars. However, after spending so much time reading the narratives from the men who fought, in spite of the complete denial of civil liberties of their own families, I have a special respect for them. I hope that my novel will do its small part to pay tribute to them and their legacy.

photo credit: National World War Two Museum

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