Washington, D.C. -- President Obama signed the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act into law, ushering in a new era of service and volunteering for our nation. The Act specifically encourages and calls upon the youth to volunteer in their communities through the Summer of Service initiative. Over the weekend, the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) hosted a service project in collaboration with the National Japanese American Memorial Foundation to inspire summer interns in the Washington, D.C. area to rise to the challenge of community and national service.
Nearly two dozen interns and volunteers assembled on a warm Sunday morning to assist in the cleaning of the National Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism During World War II, located at the intersection of Louisiana Avenue and D Street in Washington, D.C. Among the many volunteers that assisted in picking up garbage and racking up leaves around the memorial were interns and friends from the Organization of Chinese Americans (OCA), Thai Alliance in America (TAA), Kris Ikejiri the Director of Program Development from the National Japanese American Memorial Foundation, and the National Executive Director of JACL, Floyd Mori. After spending the morning collecting trash, hungry volunteers were treated to lunch by the National Japanese American Memorial Foundation.
The National Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism During World War II honors the Japanese American soldiers who so bravely fought for our freedom in a time when the freedom of their family and friends was stripped away as they were forced into desolate internment camps. It not only pays tribute to the loyalty and bravery of these Japanese American soldiers but it acknowledges a dark period of American history brought on by prejudice and fear.
During tough economic times as these, where funding for state parks and historic landmarks are often on the chopping block, it is imperative to assist in the preservation and education of the Asian American experience. The Japanese American Citizens League, the nation's oldest and largest Asian American civil and human rights organization, hopes volunteers were inspired and that the Memorial serves as a reminder of the events of the past and encourages others to take action to prevent others from suffering similar injustices.