By Shihou Sasaki The North American Post
U.S. House Representative Jim McDermott announced his retirement on Monday after serving 14 terms in the congress. He has had a strong connection to the Nikkei community and has acted as a bridge between the United States and Japan through his congressional service. Nisei Veterans Committee and NVC Foundation representatives said that McDermott has strong connections with the organization as he has supported many projects as well as attended the annual Memorial Day service ceremony at Lake View Cemetery.
“The Seattle Nisei Veterans Committee (NVC) would like to extend an appreciative ‘Thank You’ to retiring U.S. Congressman Jim McDermott,” said Comander Yuzo Tokita. “This ‘Thanks’ extends from all members of Seattle NVC and the NVC Foundation. Over his years as a Congressman, Jim McDermott has been a very close friend of our NVC organizations with special supportive interest in our World War II Japanese American veterans and subsequent veterans of the wars that followed.” Tokita added that McDermott was a strong supporter of federal Congressional funding of $250,000 to help renovate the NVC Memorial Hall in 2007, and was one of two Congressional representatives to present the Congressional Gold Medal to World War II veterans at the local medal ceremony at the University of Washington in January 2012.
“U.S. Congressman McDermott is a steadfast supporter of all our NVC/NVCF activities and participates in our NVC organization as a ‘Honorary Life Member’ of the Seattle Nisei Vets,” Tokita said. “…And, what endures him to our membership is his unannounced annual attendance to our NVC Memorial Day veterans services held at the Seattle Lakeview National Cemetery.”
His brick on the Japanese American Memorial Wall in the NVC Memorial Hall parking lot can be found among the other 3,500 names of the veterans and those who experienced incarceration
camps during World War II.
At many occasions at Nikkei related events, McDermott shared memories of his friendship with college classmate David Sakura who experienced World War II incarceration and had family members serving for the U.S. Military.
McDermott received the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold & Silver Star Award from the Japanese government in 2014.
According to remarks from him on behalf of the award, he states that he has visited Japan 40 times since 1989 throughout his congressional service for the Washington State Seventh District in order to build and exchange friendship between the Japanese diet and U.S. congressmen and to deepen mutual understanding in promotion of the U.S.-Japan alliance.
Of the Nisei veterans, he said: “After the Second World War some of their heroism was forgotten. I asked Bill Clinton to re-examine the records of the Nisei’s performance in Italy. Among those whose deeds had not been acknowledged were those of William Kenzo Nakamura, a 19-year-old boy from Garfield high school in Seattle, who was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor,” he stated.
The Japanese American Citizens League in Seattle also posted their appreciation of McDermott’s service on Monday, saying “Congressman Jim McDermott, our dear friend and supporter, we thank you for your years of service and devotion to our country.”