Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Rudy Tokiwa Interview II
Narrator: Rudy Tokiwa
Interviewers: Tom Ikeda (primary), Judy Niizawa (secondary)
Location: Honolulu, Hawaii
Date: July 2 & 3, 1998
Densho ID: denshovh-trudy-02-0055

<Begin Segment 55>

TI: Okay, we're almost at the end of this tape. So I just wanted to finish up. Anything else about the war in Europe? Any other story or memory that you want to talk about?

JN: He wanted to refer back to his dad. (...)

TI: Okay. We can talk about your father. Talk about your father.

RT: I've always, I've always felt real proud of my dad. Because I think it takes a pretty God dang good man to be able to let his sons go and volunteer and fight for a country that he went to fight for, and never received his citizenship. I think if it was me, I'da probably told my son, "You're crazy. You're not gonna get anywhere." And I'd probably be hollering at him. But do you know my dad never raised his voice once. And what he had said to me was, "Well, if this is what you believe you should do, you should do it. Otherwise, for the rest of your life, you're gonna start wondering, did I do right or did I do wrong?" So he says, "I know I was in a bad situation with 'em and everything, but I wish you luck." And the Japanese, the Issei, they never hug and, or anything like that. But he did grab my hand, and said, "I want to wish you lots of luck, and please come home." So it takes a certain different man to be able to do what he has done, after what he went through. I think any of us woulda said, "Well, it happened like this, like this, and it isn't gonna change." But with him, he had faith enough that, sooner or later, it's gonna be right. And so I've always said, when you can't have a father that believed in his sons and believed that things can be turned around by what the sons do, and still say, "I bless you for it."

And I've always, and that one thing that I've always remembered was, well, naturally, in his days, they fought the war differently. And when I left, one of the things he had said was, "Always remember, don't lead with your heart." In other words, don't put your shoulders so your heart is first. And he says, "Because when you get shot in your heart, you don't make it. But if you get shot in the lung, you have a chance." That stayed in my mind all the way through the war, what he had said there. I thought, "Gee, that, when you really come down to think about it, that is somethin' to think about."

JN: Can you show that position? Show the position. How would you lead?

RT: Well, 'cause, see what side's my heart on? It's on this side. So yeah, you lead this way. So this way, if you get shot, you gonna get shot through here. So he was thinkin'. He says, "Yeah, they don't teach you these things. But these are the things you learn." Because in their days, they fought the war differently. The whistle blew, you went outta your trench, you charged.

TI: Were there any things that you kept that reminded you of your father or mother while you were fighting?

RT: Well, my mother had sent me a little bag with the rice, with the kernels on it. And she had taken that out, she found this out, found it in a hundred-pound bag of rice. And she sent, she always said, "This rice kernel was real lucky. With all the thousands and thousands of rice that's in this sack, it's the only one that lived through it and was able to keep this husk on. So I'm sending this, you this, so that you'll come home to us."

TI: Because in a similar way, the people, all the people who would get hurt or killed, that she was hoping that you would symbolize the one that came back.

RT: That came back from that, yeah. That I'd be the one just like this little rice out of that hundred-pound sack.

JN: He still has it.

RT: I've always, I guess I'll keep that until the day I die. And I'd like it to be buried with me. Because when you go through life and death every day like that, you hang onto every little thread you have. I don't care who he is. A lotta guys say, "Aw, I didn't worry about gettin' killed." But even while you're saying that, you're still hopin', "I hope I don't." And I've always, I've always admitted it. I've always said, "Yeah, I wore this around my neck from the day I got it, to all the way home." And I go in the hospital, I made sure that nobody took it off my neck. That's where it stayed. It might be a crazy superstition, but I loved it.

<End Segment 55> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.