Guest Author - Evelyn Rainey
Title: Go for Broke
Starring: Van Johnson, Lane Nakano, Akira Fukunaga, Henry Oysate, George Miki, Ken K. Okamoto, Harry Hamadan, Henry Nakamura
Produced by Dore Schary
Directed by Robert Pirosh
Written by Robert Pirosh
Technical Advisor: Lt. Col. Thomas W. Akins, Infantry and Mike Masaoka
Service/Regiment: 442nd Regimented Combat Team and the 100th Infantry Battalion
Plot: The formation, deployment, and heroics of the 442nd, predominantly made up volunteers of ‘loyal American citizens of Japanese descent’. The characters were endearing and the story addressed both the war between countries and the war between ethnicities. Never preachy, I was left cheering for the soldiers at the end of the movie and couldn’t wait to research the story behind the movie.
Themes: America is made stronger by its melting pot of ethnicities. True Americans rise above racial ties to fight against fascism, tyranny and for democracy. As stated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, “Americanism is a matter of the mind and heart; Americanism is not, and never was, a matter of race or ancestry.”
Negatives: none, even the music was good and appropriate
The Facts Behind the Movie
Nicknamed “The Purple Heart Battalion”, the 442nd had seven major campaigns in Europe; 9,486 casualties; 18,143 individual decorations; seven Presidential Unit Citations; and twenty-one recipients of the Medal of Honor. It was the most decorated US military unit in history for its size and length of service. At a time when most Nikkei (Japanese migrants and their descendants) were placed in American concentration camps, the 100th and the 442nd were made up of volunteers who, because of their ethnicity, were ineligible for the draft. Their motto was “Go for Broke”. They were active Aug 10, 1944 through Aug. 15, 1946 and again July 31, 1947 through Dec. 12, 1969.
The Go For Broke National Education Center was incorporated in 1989 to establish a memorial and now continues to focus on the history of Japanese-American soldiers, Japanese-American incarceration, and civil liberty issues of WWII. The monument was unveiled on June 1999 in Los Angeles at Temple and Alameda streets.