Maui News

Marching Home: Final Phase of Nisei Memorial Underway

September 18, 2011, 9:38 AM HST
* Updated September 18, 4:42 PM
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By Wendy Osher

Nisei Veterans Memorial Center, photo by Wendy Osher.

After years of planning, discussion and fundraising, construction is now underway on the final phase of the Nisei Veterans Memorial Center (NVMC) in Wailuku.

Over the next few months, center leadership will seek the remaining $1.9 million in funds to complete the project. The capital campaign, entitled Marching Home for a Living Legacy, will raise the funds for the last and crowing piece of the project–the 4,200 square-foot Education Center.

The initial portion of the project site, mauka of Kahului Harbor and across the street from Y. Hata & Co. in Wailuku, was contributed by Alexander & Baldwin, Inc. nearly two decades ago.  The final phase was made possible by a second, more recent donation by A&B for an adjacent parcel of land.

Construction has started on the Education Center, the final phase of the NVMC. Photo by Wendy Osher.

The Education Center will be home to the organizations extensive collection of memorabilia, historic information, library, oral history and education classrooms.

The facility is dedicated to recounting the history of the Nisei veteran in World War II through its various educational materials and programs.

The campaign for the final phase is being led by NVMC Board Member, Brian T. Moto, J.D., Maui’s former corporation counsel.  Moto is the son of Kaoru Moto, a veteran who served in the 100th Infantry Battalion and earned the military’s highest honors including the Medal of Honor, a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart.

The NVMC Educational Center is under construction on a parcel just mauka of Kahului Harbor in Wailuku.

Moto recalled attended activities of the Maui Chapter of Club 100 as a child saying, “From a young age, I learned about the valor of Japanese-American soldiers, and their moving and powerful story of confronting hardship and a fearsome enemy on the battlefield, and of overcoming poverty and racial discrimination at home.”

“The NVMC’s mission of recounting this story so as to inspire and motivate others and transform our nation and community struck me (as I hope it does others) as a most important and worthy cause,” said Moto.

Nisei Veterans Memorial Center. Photo by Wendy Osher.

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The non-profit NVMC was founded by Leonard Oka and is led by board president Hiroshi Arisumi.  Other campaign leaders include Paul K. Mizoguchi, Hilton Unemori, Ryan Ouye, Nelson Okumura, Leonard Y. Oka, Mark Mizuno, and Yuki-Lei Sugimura.

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“Today, it’s on my bucket list to see the NVMC completed,” said Arisumi, 91, who was a member of the famed 442nd Regimental Combat Team.

“All we want to do is be of service–the ones who came home.  And for the ones who couldn’t come home with us, we want to always remember them,” said Arisumi.

Completion of the $6.5 million campus is anticipated by early next year.

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