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Memorial Day at Montrose Cemetery

• On the rainy Memorial Day at the Montrose Cemetery, the hymn Amazing Grace induced Japanese Americans to remember their ancestors’ hard work to keep their families healthy and hopeful.

• The Annual Memorial Day Service was held on May 25 by the Mutual Aid Society of Chicago at the Montrose Cemetery on Chicago’s North side. More than 80 years ago, the majority of established cemeteries in the Chicago area would not bury JAs, but only Montrose Cemetery accepted JAs. Since its inception in 1935, the Society has purchased cemetery plots and resold them to people and families in the JA community at affordable prices. Moreover, the Society has helped with burial fees for those who died and were unable to pay. Today, over 2,000 families and individuals of JAs are resting in the Cemetery.

• In his opening remarks, Robert Kumaki said, “Almost 80 years later, it seems almost unthinkable that this would be the case. Montrose has been a continual friend to the JA community in Chicago.”
• 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.”
• He 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 the 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. Yuki Scroggins and Rev. Brandyn Simmons, the Buddhist chanting led by Rev. Ron Miyamura and the collective of Buddhist ministers, and the invocation by Rev. Kunihito Fumioka of the Tenrikyo Church.

• Also, the choral selections of “Gentle Voice” and “Sweet By and By” led by Chelsea Dolinar-Hikawa were offered, and the Gatha “Nadame”, “Nagasaki no kane” and “Furusato” were sung by Soyokaze Chorus led by Kinuyo Matsuhashi.

• People in the Rosemont Cemetery

• Pat Walters visits Montrose Cemetery with her husband Richard every year even though the couple has lived in St. Louis for many years. The couple, along with Pat’s brother Craig Yamamoto cleaned and offered flowers for their grandparents, uncles and aunts.
• Pat was raised in Chicago, and then her family moved to Des Plaines. Her parents still live in there, so they have a family reunion after the Memorial Service every year. Pat threw her eyes in the air and remembered good old days saying, “In Chicago, grandparents and uncle were all in the same house. I have two sisters and my younger brother…”

• Chicagoan Cheryl Muszynske was cleaning her father’s grave with her husband Joe and her brother Jim Corbett. She said that her grandparents came to Chicago from Tacoma and stayed in the city the whole time.
• She said, “Good memory of my grandmother… When I was a little kid, she showed me how to make Japanese paper cranes. My sister and I to this day still make them celebrating birthdays, occasions like that.”

Montrose Cemetery

Nisei Post #1183

Christian Choir by Chelsea Dolinar-Hikaw

Soyokaze Chorus

Rev. Yuki Scroggins

Consul General Toshiyuki Iwado offers flowers