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World War II portrait exhibit coming to Albertsons Library, reception Nov. 2

The “Go For Broke Spirit: Portraits of Legacy by Shane Sato” exhibition will be on display at Boise State University’s Albertsons Library from Wednesday, Nov. 1 through Sunday, Feb. 18, 2024. The public is invited to an artist reception with Shane Sato at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 2 at the library.

This exhibition of 25 photographs evolved from Sato’s social practice which centers the human dignity and individuality of service members from the 442nd Regimental Combat Team (RCT), the 100th Battalion and the Military Intelligence Service. Despite segregation, discrimination and governmentally-forced incarceration, they chose to “Go For Broke,” the regiment’s motto. The RCT became the most highly decorated regiment in U.S. military history for its role in extracting a Texas National Guard unit trapped by Nazi troops in 1944.

“I want people to remember what they did when they had everything against them. Hopefully, the next generation will be able to look at what these men did and talk about that,” Sato said.

Seeing into the past

Shane Sato is a photographer based in Los Angeles. In 1999, he started shooting black and white portraits of World War II veterans from the 442nd. The RCT was composed of American-born Japanese “Nisei” (NEE-say), meaning second generation.

Public reaction to Sato’s work changed dramatically in 2007. He began to feature the veterans in their uniforms to help the audience “see into the past.” The men were now visually linked directly to their heroic past as soldiers. Sato then partnered with oral historian Robert Horsting to create a two-book set, “The Go For Broke Spirit.” This collaboration added personal stories, anecdotes and individual memories to each portrait. The work in its totality humanized these service members previously seen only as historical.

The exhibit is a collaborative project between Boise State’s Veterans Services Center, University Affairs, Albertsons Library, and community member COL (Ret) Tom Greco, U.S. Army.