A Memorial Day ceremony at Oak Hill cemetery in San Jose honored a unit of Japanese-American soldiers from World War Two.

Betsy Gebhart/KCBS Radio

Memorial Day In San Jose Honors Japanese Americans In Military During WW2

KCBS Radio Overnight News
May 28, 2019 - 12:01 am

SAN JOSE — Thousand turned out for several Memorial Day ceremonies at San Jose’s Oak Hill cemetery.

The heroic 442nd Regiment from World War Two, which was composed of Japanese Americans, was featured in Monday's events. The 442nd was the most decorated unit in U.S. military history. 

The ceremony today at the graveyard specifically honored the first Japanese American to be awarded the national Medal of Honor.

“He jumped on top of the grenade to smother the blast and save the lives of his fellow soldiers one month later Germany surrendered," said Sumi Tanabe, of the Japanese Cemetery Trust Committee.

While many Japanese Americans fought for the U.S. during the Second World War, many members of the 442nd had relatives who were held in internment camps due to their ethnicity. 

“In the face of painful prejudice, they helped to define America at its best," said Tanabe.

Reported by Betsy Gebhardt.