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Placer County WWII memorial dedication set for June 2

Veterans, families and the public invited to attend
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Four years in the making, a historic memorial to World War II will be dedicated in Placer County at 2 p.m. Sunday, June 2. Open to the public, the event will take place at the Bill Santucci Justice Center in Roseville, just off Highway 65.

In spring 2009, Placer County began construction on this memorial to honor the soldiers of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, a segregated unit comprising Japanese American citizens whose courage and determination led them to become the most decorated infantry regiment for its size in the history of the United States Army.

More than 148 men from Placer County served in the 442nd and the 100th Battalion, which merged with the unit during the war. Many of these men endured, along with their families, the hardships of internment and relocation camps. Many would later say they served to prove their loyalty to America.

The county dedicated the first phase of the memorial Dec. 16, 2009, naming the adjoining road “Go For Broke Road” after the motto of the unit. At that ceremony, Placer Chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League announced its intention to commission a monumental bronze sculpture and additional amenities to complete the memorial.

After raising more than $200,000 from donations and grants, Placer JACL installed a 2,000-pound bronze statue titled “Rescue of The Lost Battalion,” showing a soldier from the 442nd rescuing a wounded member of the 141st Texas Regiment, known as the “Lost Battalion” after the Nazis surrounded them for days in the Vosges Mountains of Eastern France. After intense combat, the 442nd broke through, losing more than half their men in the battle.

“The memorial has taken four years to complete, but has been well worth the effort,” said Ken Tokutomi, project chair. “This will be one of the finest monuments dedicated to that generation who gave so much, and it is here in Northern California, where the heritage of Americans of Japanese Ancestry (Nikkei) has been so significant to our country.”

The dedication will unveil bronze plaques recounting the history and significance of the Nikkei experience in World War II. Placer JACL also installed two engraved polished black granite benches and a two-part display of commemorative bricks honoring veterans, families and organizations whose generosity supported completion of the memorial.

Among the dignitaries expected to attend are elected officials from Placer County and neighboring cities, numerous veterans and their families and representatives of JACL chapters in the region. A short appreciation by Robert Nakamoto of the Japanese American Veteran’s Association will be followed by a keynote speech from Carol Sato-Yamazaki, chair of the National Veterans Network. Refreshments will follow the ceremony.

For more information about the dedication, including directions, visit www.placerjacl.org.