2018 Memorial Day at Montrose Cemetery Remembering Ancestors So Not to Lose JA History
The Annual Memorial Day Service was held on May 28 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 Japanese Americans (JAs), but only Montrose Cemetery accepted them. 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, the Society’s President Gary Shimomura said that the JA community came together to remember and pay respects for those who had sacrificed their lives to ensure America’s freedoms. These included some of the earliest immigrants from Japan, who served in WWI, and young Nisei, who volunteered to serve while leaving behind their families in the concentration camps during WWII.
Shimomura talked about the “Go For Broke Memorial” in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles, which inscribed 16,000 men and women of Japanese ancestry who served in the WWII. It also states that the JA soldiers fought to prove their loyalties even though they had been deprived of their constitutional rights. “This legacy will serve as a sobering reminder that never again shall any group be denied liberty and the rights of citizenship,” it concluded.
Shimomura said, “I think it’s important that we do keep repeating these facts because history courses taught in schools do not adequately cover this period of the Japanese-American history. Our children, our grandchildren, and so on should not lose these stories of our past.”
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. Linda Misewicz-Perconte; choral selections of “From a Distance” and the hymn “Sweet By and By”; the Buddhist chanting by Buddhist Ministers, Rev. Ron Miyamura, and Ms. Kayo Murayami and other prayers; Gotha “Nadame” and song “Furusato” by Chicago Soyokaze Chorus, and an invocation by Rev. Masanori Takeuchi.
Presentation of flowers was offered by the representatives from 19 Japanese and Japanese American organizations.
People in the Montrose Cemetery
Debby Buschard was planting flowers for her parents’
grave, which showed the family name of Terusaki.
They moved to Chicago years later, and her father opened an auto and body fender shop. Buschard and her brother were born in Chicago. She said that she regularly comes to the Montrose Cemetery once a year. “I should come more often to give them flowers,” she said.
Mark comes to Montrose every year with his wife. His grandparents and parents are resting there. The family name is Tanaka.
Mark’s grandfather was born in the 1800s and immigrated in the U.S. in the 1930s. During WWII, his grandfather was put into the Manzanar concentration camp and then settled in Chicago and opened a restaurant. His grandmother was a fluent Spanish speaker, so she opened a barber shop for Spanish speaking people. His grandfather died in 1998, and his grandmother died sometimes in the 90s.
Mark’s father fought in the Korean War, but he wasn’t sure about the life of his father afterward. Mark said that his father passed away about 10 years ago.
Americo Bugliani attends the Memorial Day Service from Italy almost every year to pay respect for the Nisei soldiers.
A 12-year-old Italian boy in 1945 never forgot a Japanese American soldier who gave him some items, and later built a monument in his hometown Pietrasanta, to show appreciation for JA soldiers who had fought to liberate him and others from German tyranny and Italian fascists.
Bugliani lived in the village of Pietrasanta, where Nisei troops of the 442 Regimental Combat Team and the 100th Infantry Battalion were camping and waiting for military actions. Pietrasanta was located near the Gothic Line, the last fortifications of the German army.
Bugliani and other children flocked around Nisei soldiers and expected that the soldiers would give them something. During the war, they had nothing and were always hungry.
On April 3, 1945, a JA soldier gave something to Bugliani. Next morning, he saw the soldiers were preparing to leave. The same soldier came out and gave him more things including a tube of Colgate, a tooth brush, and a hat with infantry badges. The soldier also gave him a self-portrait photo and told with a warm smile that his name was Paul Sakamoto.
Bugliani remembers that that was one of a few happy moments during the war time, and he was always carrying the photo. Since then he had been looking for the soldier for 50 years and finally reunited with Sakamoto in Hawaii.
The reunion inspired Bugliani to do something to express his gratitude to JA soldiers. He worked hard in his home town of Pietrasanta to raise a fund and build a statue of Sadao Munemori, who had saved his two subordinates by throwing his body on a grenade.
Bugliani immigrated to the U.S. in May, 1954 and was
drafted in September of the same year. After his discharge, he eventually
earned a Ph.D at Northwestern University and pursued an academic career
at the University of Illinois at Chicago until 1981. Presently, he lives
in Pietrasanta with his wife.
Posting of colors by the Chicago Nisei Post #1183
"From a Distance and "Sweet By and By" sung by Christian Choir
The Buddhist chanting by Buddhist Ministers
Amazing Grace played by Ken Kadoyama
Debby Buschard (L) and her husband
Mark and his daughter Stephanie
Americo Bugliani (R) and his wife Ann