Densho Digital Repository
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Gary M. Itano Interview
Narrator: Gary M. Itano
Interviewer: Linda Tamura
Location: Los Angeles, California
Date: August 21, 2019
Densho ID: ddr-densho-1000-479-18

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LT: Well, it took forty days, and finally on January 17, 1983, they got a response. What was that response?

GI: Well, I think it was just from hearsay myself, because my family wasn't involved in the suit. But I just heard that it was approved and their dishonorable discharges were reinstated as honorable, and their back pay granted and some other benefits and all that sort of thing, but I never really looked after that, knowing the principle that they had accomplished their goal.

LT: The only thing they didn't receive was that there was no basis for setting aside their convictions.

GI: Yeah, maybe that's still the part that I have to pursue in following up on my own father's conviction. It's just still work out there to do.

LT: So you attended a celebration afterward.

GI: Uh-huh.

LT: What was it like, and what did they say?

GI: I don't know exactly what they said. I recall, though, that there was a Mr. Omura, and he was editor for the Denver Free Post or something like that, whom I had worked with in my past life in the anti-war movement working on the Long Beach Free Press, San Diego Street Journal, and Mr. Omura and I had crossed paths somehow, exchanged letters and things like that, and medication on occasion. And then I was really surprised that he was there. But I guess Paul knew he was in town. Oh, no, I'm sorry, I got that mixed up. That celebration of the DB Boys that I'm talking about, with Mr. Omura, was when we attended the bicentennial celebration of the United States constitution mounted by the Smithsonian Museum of American History, and their traveling exhibit was called... what was it called? You can fill that in, I don't recall it right now. But the DB Boys' story, and our having gone to the Pentagon and done all that was included in this film by Loni Ding called The Color of Honor. And they invited all the participants of that movie to view the premier of the movie at the opening ceremony of, pretty amazingly, the two hundredth anniversary of the birth of the constitution of the United States. And so we were the first ones to get to walk through the exhibit, and then we went to the big movie theater and saw ourselves up on the big screen. And then afterwards, there was this huge ballroom where all the other attendants for whatever various reasons were invited were there to celebrate. And then Paul would take us and give us little tours around Washington, the treasury department and all this, the FBI and Congress and the Supreme Court and all these kinds of things. And then in the middle of that, we would have this one dinner that I was recollecting, and that's where I saw Mr. Omura, who was there because of his involvement in the redress movement, I'm sure.

LT: Was there a difference in the men's tenor and their openness in talking about their past before and after the Pentagon hearing?

GI: Well, again, before... once I had returned from Japan, they were well aware that we offspring had no idea, and so the word kind of got out that I had learned about it, and us other offspring had learned about it. And so I think I was invited to one of their annual or whatever reunions when I first heard the stories. And I remember them individually or in pairs pulling me aside and telling me all of these stories about how they marched and how they met beforehand and they discussed this injustice, and they were duty bound to do something about it and just not let it go. Not just go and be cannon fodder, but if they're going to die, they're going to die for a purpose. So that being the first time I had heard about any of this stuff directly from those guys, the story never changed, I mean, their attitude never changed. They were proud of it, they were, hey, just like in Loni Ding's movie, the movie was about the Japanese American experience in the United States military, not just the DB Boys, this was just one part. But she asked some of the other participants of the movie about what they thought about the DB Boys. And in general they said, hey, something had to be done and these men had the courage to do it.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 2019 Densho. All Rights Reserved.