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Memorial Wall

By David Yamaguchi
The North American Post

The J K panel Photos DY

Seattle’s Memorial Stadium has been in the news of late owing to its planned replacement. While you are visiting the Seattle Center for the Cherry Blossom Festival, why not take an extra 20 minutes to go look at its memorial wall, which will be preserved?The wall is in the pay parking lot next to the MoPop Museum. My guess would be that most present-day readers have never stopped to look at it. My visit last month was my first.

The stadium, built in 1947, and its wall, which followed in 1950, commemorate Seattle’s approximately 770 former students who died in WWII in 24 panels. There are many Nisei among them, examples of which appear at right.


Among the K’s, we find:
Jero Kanetomi
Akira Kanzaki
Yoshio Kato
John R. Kawaguchi
From their biographies on the wall at the Nisei Veterans Hall and elsewhere, the broad strokes of their short lives can be summarized in a brief table.

Note Broadway HS was at the location of Broadway Performance Hall today

Specifically, we can add the following:
Kanetomi earned a UW pharmacy degree, then enlisted in the army on December 7, 1941. He died in the famous rescue of the “Lost Battalion,” from Texas. His name is also inscribed on the memorial stone in the Cleveland High Memorial Forest, near Snoqualmie Falls.

Kanzaki enlisted in 1943 and was killed in the Arno River Campaign near Florence, Italy.

Kato had been a UW engineering major who died near Bruyeres, France.

Kawaguchi was a UW freshman. He is buried at Calvary Cemetery, Seattle.

Kanetomi and Kato died on the same day.

Kanetomi, Kato and Kawaguchi’s names also stand behind the “K” in SYNKOA House, the post-war name of the UW Nikkei student dormitory, in memory of former house members who were killed in the war.

Perhaps the main significance of the wall of honored dead at Memorial Stadium is that it places the names of Seattle Nisei soldiers killed in action together with their school peers. On the wall, the Nisei are ordinary Seattle students turned courageous soldiers.

In doing so, the wall also provides a means for measuring how much more the Seattle Nisei gave, through being concentrated in combat infantry, relative to the small fraction of the city population Japanese Americans represented at the time.

I leave the latter analysis for a young person looking for a worthwhile community project.

Further info:

Editor’s note.
The NAP thanks all advertisers, especially those who joined us for this special cherry blossom festival issue.