Go For Broke Monument

Background information

Roger Yanagita, unveiled June 1999.
Information from the 100th/442nd/MIS World War II Memorial Foundation press release: The first Monument of its kind in the Mainland U.S. to honor the World War II Heroics of Japanese American soldiers who fought bravely while their families were held in U. S. internment camps. It commemorates the 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team, Military Intelligence Service, 522nd Field Artillery Battalion, 232nd Combat Engineering Company and the 1399th Engineering Construction Battalion.

The monument was built by the non-profit 100th/442nd/MIS World War II Memorial Foundation and given to the City of Los Angeles. The Memorial Foundation is providing upkeep for the Monument.

The idea for a monument was conceived by a group of veterans and initiated in 1990 by the 100th/442nd/MIS World War II Memorial Foundation with an international design competition. The Go For Broke Monument design was chosen from 138 entries in the blind and juried competition and the winning design by Roger Yangita was publicly presented January 14, 1991.

The design comprises a 40 foot granite circle of bold, black granite, rising to a peak of 9 feet and slping to grade level on the front. A curving vertical perimeter wall is engraved with names of 16,000 Nisei soldiers and their officers who served overseas during World War II, including 37 Japanese American women. An inscribed star designates those killed in action. A semicircle of 60 colorful organizational patches from the various units with which the 100th, 442nd, MIS and other Nisei soldiers were attached and/or assigned during World War II runs along the upper edge of the wall above the names.

The round, flat face of the Monument tells the story of the 100th, 442nd, MIS, 552nd, 232 and 1399th with five large medallions and moving inscription. A granite replica of the 442nd shoulder patch topped with the brilliant image of a torch and an upright arms borrowed from the Statue of Liberty are set in front of the inscription. The granite shoulder patch holds a symbolic flame as a lasting reminder of those who died in battle, and an American Flag.

The approach to the monument is a checkerboard of grass and granite, with a ring of grass circling all the way around. Two clusters of stately donor pillars acknowledge contributors and supports. A convenient kiosk houses a computerized name locator or "monument map." More than a doze cherry plum and Japanese maple trees stand near the wall of names and the surrounding plaza is paved with stone.

Background: During World War II, American citizens of Japanese ancestry were classified by the U.S. Government as "enemy aliens" and imprisoned in internment campus without due process of law. Although deprived of their constitutional rights, thousands of young men and women volunteered out of these campus to serve in segregated units of the 100th/442nd Regimental Combat Team fighting in Europe, and with the Military Intelligence Service (MIS) in the Pacific. Through remarkably distinguished service, the 100th/442nd RTC and MIS helped restore freedom and civil rights, not only for future generations of Japanese Americans but also for all Americans. Through sacrifice and heroics, they demonstrated that civil liberties are inalienable and should never be denied to anyone because of race or ancestry.

In 1989, Japanese American World War II veterans established the Foundation to build the Go for Broke Monument, as well as an educational program using the stories of these veterans to illustrate constitutional issues and civil rights. The Monument, located in Downtown Los Angeles adjacent to the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA and north of the Japanese American National Museum, was unveiled in June 1999 and presented as a gift to the City.

Back to Little Tokyo