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School of Public Service supports program to remember Idaho’s Japanese American soldiers

As part of the 2021 virtual education series in celebration of the 20th anniversary of Minidoka National Historic Site, the National Park Service and Friends of Minidoka will host “Stamping Their Legacy: Honoring the Nisei Soldiers of WWII,” a virtual program at 2 p.m. on Sunday, June 13.

The program includes the dedication of the U.S. Postal Service’s new Go for Broke stamp remembering the approximately 33,000 Japanese American soldiers who served in the U.S. Army during World War II amidst intense racial prejudice and war hysteria.

Join the livestream on the Japanese American Memorial Pilgrimages Youtube channel. Share and RSVP to the event on Facebook.

Event partners include the Boise State’s School of Public Service, ACLU of Idaho, The Community Library, the Boise City Department of Arts and History, and the Japanese American Citizens League, and Japanese American Memorial Pilgrimages.

The stamp and a history of service

The stamp art, designed by art director Antonio Alcalá, is based on a photograph of a member of the all-Japanese-American 100th Infantry 442nd Regimental Combat Team, whose motto was “Go for Broke.” The 442nd became one of the most distinguished American fighting units of World War II. Soldiers served, even as the U.S. government held their families in prison camps including the Minidoka, or Hunt camp near Jerome, Idaho.

In addition to the 442nd, thousands of other second generation Japanese Americans, or Nisei, served as translators, interpreters, and interrogators in the Pacific Theater for the Military Intelligence Service. Nearly a thousand served in the 1399th Engineer Construction Battalion. More than 100 Nisei women joined the Women’s Army Corp.

Opening of building
2019 soft opening of the visitor center at the Minidoka National Historic Site. The opening coincided with the annual survivors’ pilgrimage to the site. Photo courtesy of Julie Abo.

The stamp came about after a years-long campaign by the grassroots group Stamp Our Story whose founding members included widows of veterans from the 442nd. Friends of Minidoka was able to garner the support for the stamp from Idaho Representative Mike Simpson and Senators Mike Crapo and James Risch.

Stamps, commemorative first day covers, and digital postmarks are available at

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Hanako standing in front of guard tower
Hanako Wakatsuki stands near a guard tower at the Minidoka National Historic Site. Wakatsuki helped raise money to reconstruct the tower, working with Boise State’s Department of Construction Management and their graduate students on the project. Photo by Stan Honda for the National Park Service.

Boise State graduate Hanako Wakatsuki spent four years as chief of interpretation and education at the Minidoka National Historic Site. The National Park Service recently named Wakatsuki the first superintendent of the Honouliuli National Historic Site in Honolulu, Hawaii.