Conscience and the Constitution

Letters to the Editor
Pacific Citizen, June 7-20, 2002 

An Open Letter
by Yosh Kuromiya

On May 11, national JACL extended a landmark apology to the draft resisters of World War II for their prior insensitivity to the resisters' legitimate demand for civil rights equity as a prior condition to military induction.

Those of the JACL who fought long and hard to bring this resolution to fruition are to be commended for their commitment to the principles of justice and human dignity, the very essence of a civil rights organization. The future credibility of the JACL as a civil rights organization hinges on the furtherance of similar commitments toward the ultimate reconciliation of all of Japanese America.

In this spirit of reconciliation, I would like to acknowledge the many supporters of the resistance movement, some very vocal, such as the late James Omura, who paid too great a price for his convictions, and Frank Chin, who would pay any price for his convictions, and the many who are not so vocal, but whose silent support we have always valued and has sustained us these many years.

In particular, I give belated thanks to the many in Heart Mountain who unselfishly donated to the Fair Play Committee to provide us with legal counsel in our ill-fated challenge to government oppression. The parents of the resisters, undoubtedly, provided the bulk of the necessary funds, but many, unrelated to the resisters, gave out of principle and I would guess, out of a flickering hope for justice. Some had sons already in the service. All this, when financial resources were extremely bleak and the future of Japanese America even bleaker. Such nobility brings new meaning to the term "The Quiet American."

Understandably, many donations were anonymous; however, the FPC destroyed all records when threatened with charges of sedition, in order to protect the innocent. Thus, I never knew who you were and I know most are now gone. Yet, it is important that it be known publicly how we resisters are deeply indebted for the sacrifices you made, and the moral resolve it engendered in us when we needed it the most.

With everlasting gratitude,

Yosh Kuromiya
Heart Mountain Draft Resister

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Updated: June 7, 2002