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Memorial Day at Montrose Cemetery

• The Annual Memorial-Day Service was held by the Mutual Aid Society of Chicago at the Montrose Cemetery on Chicago’s North side. Since its inception in 1935, the Society has purchased cemetery plots and resold them to people and families in the Japanese American (JA) community at affordable prices. Moreover, the Society has helped with burial fees for those who died unable to pay. Now, over 2,000 families and individuals of JAs are resting in the Montrose Cemetery.

• MC Robert Kumaki reminded the attendees of the role of the Mutual Aid Society saying, “Today, we honor not only the loved family members and friends here in Montrose, but also spirit of those members of the Mutual Aid of Society, who enable the memorial service to take place annually.”
• Kumaki also said, “Today, so few people in our country are spending time to think about the purpose of this holiday. I’m especially proud of Japanese American Community to remember it in this way.”

• The Memorial Service started with posting of colors by the Chicago Nisei Post #1183, followed by scripture reading and prayer by Rev. Hiroyuki Hirunuma, chanting by Rev. Patti Nakai and Buddhist ministers, invocation by Rev. Masanori Takeuchi, and presentation of flowers by 18 JA and Japanese organizations.
• Also, the Hymn “Sweet By and By” by Chelsea Dolinar-Hikawa and the Christian Choir, along with Japanese songs by the Soyokaze Chorus, were offered as solace for the deceased people.

• People in the Rosemont Cemetery

• George Watanabe visited his parents’ grave with his wife Eunice. The couple’s old friends David and Joan Takada came from California to join them on Memorial Day.
• During WII, Eunice was interned at Tule Lake camp and moved to Amache in Colorado after the notorious questionnaire was implemented. She met George Watanabe, who lived in the same block of Amache camp.
• On the other hand, David Takada met Joan at the Santa Anita Assembly Center, and both of them were moved to Amache.
• After being released from the camp, George and David attended the University of Illinois at Chicago, and then George became an architect, while David became an engineer.
• George worked at the campus library at U of I and later worked for building facilities at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.
• Currently, the Watanabes live in Arlington Heights, and the Takadas are in Los Angeles. When the Takadas lived in Evanston, the two families often had a lunch together.

• Tonko Doi at the Japanese American Service Committee said that her husband, Paul, was also in Amache. Tonko was interned in the Rohwer camp when she was six-month old and moved to Chicago after WWII.

• Keith Mori visited his mother’s grave, whose headstone read “Ayako Mori, 1931-1995.” He remembered how his mother was as, “typical Japanese, old fashioned.”
• Keith was raised by his grandmother in Kagoshima until he entered the third grade. During this time, his mother obtained a doctoral degree in the Chicago area and taught shiatsu (pressuring points), tea ceremony, flower arrangement, and kimono making.
• Keith said, “She taught us the value of your ancestors to make sure (to remember what they did for their descendents); otherwise, bachi ga ataru (you get punished).” He also said that as a single mother, she raised two children, himself and his sister, by herself.”

• Juana and Willie Wong came to greet their church friend John Takimoto. Juana remembered him as a funny guy, who was always smiling and helped others.
• Juana and Willie bought a plot next to Takimoto, so she said that they wanted to reconnect themselves to Takimoto for the future friendship when the time comes

Robert Kumaki

George and Eunice Watanabe, and Joan Takada

Mori family

Juana and Willie Won