Densho Digital Archive
Oregon Nikkei Endowment Collection
Title: George Hara Interview
Narrator: George Hara
Interviewer: Loen Dozono
Date: February 5, 2003
Densho ID: denshovh-hgeorge_2-01-0026

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LD: Would you care to talk about your participation in JACL? You spoke about what they did during that time. You were, I believe, active in JACL, what you did and why?

GH: Yeah. I, after I got established in practice, I felt, you know, that what the JACL was doing, I believed in what they were doing, and if Portland had a chapter -- and eventually, I got interested in JACL activity and became president for one year. But, at that time, you know, I was very, had lots of new ideas. I was a dynamo, and my accomplishment as a president, I'm very proud of. We got the Chapter of the Year award for the Northwest Council, and I think some of the activities that we promoted helped us get that honor. One, I was instrumental in forming a junior JACL group and got enough Sanseis interested as a nucleus, and they brought in their friends, and they were active. And we had Japanese artists in town, and I would ask them to throw another performance, and they'd draw pictures of sumi-e. We would sell those for, to make money. And we'd go to the art museum, see Oriental exhibits, and so we threw in a little culture. And then the crowning achievement, I think, was getting Dan Inouye to come to a youth conference, and he spoke to a larger group, a formal speech, and then he gave a sort of impromptu, more informal speech to the young Nisei, I mean Sansei, and I think they appreciated it, and I think their folks thought that was a good thing. And so the young junior JACL, we also held a workshop at Louis and Clark, had some of the established Nisei talk about their experiences and have a question and answer period. And people from Tacoma and Seattle came down, and I think they were impressed with the quality of the kids that were running that, you know, workshop, and about three of them, I think, became doctors. The one I grew closest to was unfortunately killed in the Vietnam War, Curtis Sonchi. Another member was Brad Henjoji, and he got killed in the Vietnamese war, and the others, pharmacists, now I see him, and I have a very good relation with these kids as they grew up. Another doctor was Wally Kurihara and Sasaki, and he's a very famous doctor now, and those were kids that were the nucleus of the junior.

The other thing that we pulled off as a revenue source was had a luau, and that involved the whole membership plus the friends they had in Hawaii, plus the students that were attending school in this area, and we put on an exquisite show with lights and everything at the Masonic Temple. Hawaiian Airlines flew over stuff for us for nothing because of the connections with Hawaiians, and we had authentic, you know, salmon prepared the Hawaiian way. It was very successful. If it was publicized a little better, we could have had, you know, sell out. But it was really a venture of cooperation between a lot of different groups and came off very well. But I didn't want to be known as Mr. JACL or anything like that. I just served my time and got my friend, I think, Al Oyama, to follow me, and he did a good job. Then he got his friend, so for a time, the transition was smooth. Lately, I haven't been very active except for Legacy and some of these things they have for reunion day and things like that.

<End Segment 26> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.