Chicago Shimpo
2019 Memorial Day at Montrose Cemetery

• The Annual Memorial Day Service was held on May 27 by the Mutual Aid Society of Chicago at the Montrose Cemetery on Chicago’s Northside. 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. The Society also built a mausoleum in 1937, and has kept remains of those who died without family or relatives. 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 a number of the JA community people gathered before the Memorial Day to clean the Nisei Post Memorial and to place American flags on the grave of JA veterans. “I am truly humbled to see the large quantity of flags that were placed,” Shimomura said.

• He spoke about a popular phrase of “Never Forget” among the JA community. The meaning of the words is; never forget the injustice of the JA incarceration during WWII; never forget the bravery and patriotism of young JAs who volunteered to serve in the army from the incarceration camps to protect the freedoms; and never forget the history. “So that prejudices and injustices inflicted against people who have backgrounds different than our own are not repeated,” he said.

• Shimomura also said, “The motto of the Japanese Mutual Aid Society of Chicago is ‘Embracing our legacy and building our future,’” and spoke about the importance of building the future of the JA community through its community outreach programs such as supporting programs for elderly and youth of the next generation. “We are supportive of all Japanese within the Chicagoland,” he said and invited the audience to became a member of the Society or renew their membership.

• The Memorial Service started with posting of colors by the Chicago Nisei Post #1183, followed by scripture reading and prayer by Rev. Mikio Matsuzawa and Rev. Linda Misewicz-Perconte; choral selections of “Candle on the Water” and the hymn “Sweet By and By” led by Chelsea Dolinar-Hikawa; the Buddhist chanting by Buddhist Ministers, Rev. Ron Miyamura, Rev. Patti Nakai, Ms. Kayo Murayami and other prayers; Gotha “Nadame” and songs “Hana” and “Furusato” sung by Chicago Soyokaze Chorus with director Hisashi Shoji; and an invocation by Rev. Kunihito Fumioka, representing Tenrikyo Churches.
• Presentation of flowers was offered by the representatives from 19 Japanese and Japanese American organizations.

People in the Montrose Cemetery

• Mark Kamiya and his cousin Pat Walters are Sansei (the third generation of JAs). Kamiya said that coming out for the Memorial Service in the Montrose Cemetery has become “a family tradition.”
• Kamiya, an officer of the United States Agency International Development (USAID), remembered the time of his grandparents and parents after their graves were cleaned and decorated with flowers and an American flag.
• “It’s a long story, and a part of the significances is… Japanese were not able to be buried because most cemeteries wouldn’t accept Japanese people for burial. So, most of them were cremated. They weren’t buried until they got this plot. So this is significant for me because my father was a veteran in WWII,” Kamiya said.
• His grandparents, Tetsu and Naka Kamiya, were born in Japan and moved to the state of California. After WWII, his grandparents and his parents, Benjamin and Frances Kamiya, came to Chicago. He also has his uncle’s grave near his parents’. His uncle met his wife in a relocation camp.
• “People came to Chicago. Chicago was one of good places where people were able to get a job. There were a lot of places where they didn’t want to hire Japanese people. So it was nice to be away from some of the open prejudices such as in California,” Kamiya talked.
• Pat Walters used to live in Chicago, but her marriage brought her to St. Louis. “We’ve been coming every year ever since I was a little kid. So I look forward to doing this every year,” she said.

Mark Kamiyama (L2) and Pat Walters (C)

• Arlene Kajiwara, JA Sansei, said, “We didn’t come every year, but we try to come as often as we can.”
• Her father, Tsuyoshi, and her mother, Tomiye, were both born in Seattle, Washington state and came to Chicago after WWII. Her father owned a small grocery store “T & T Foods” on the north side, near the Cubs’ Wrigley Field while her mother worked as a home economics teacher for many years.
• “My parents had four children. Most my siblings are away in California and Hawaii. So I’m only one here,” Kajiwara said.

Arlene (L) and her husband, Edward Kajiwara

Italian Boy Who Cherished Nisei Soldiers

• Americo Bugliani, who had attended the Memorial Day Service from Italy almost every year to pay respect for the Nisei soldiers, passed away last January, and his wife, Ann, attended it alone and talked about Americo’s memories.
• A 12-year-old Italian boy in 1945 never forgot a JA soldier who gave him some items, and later built a monument of Sadao Munemori in his hometown Pietrasanta, to show appreciation for JA soldiers who had fought to liberate him and others from German tyranny and Italian fascists. Munemori was a JA soldier who saved his two subordinates by sacrificing his own body.

• Bugliani lived in the village of Pietrasanta, where Nisei troops of the 442 Regimental Combat Team and the 100th Infantry Battalion were camping to attack the Gothic Line.
• Bugliani and other children flocked around Nisei soldiers, and one of the soldier gave him a tube of Colgate, a tooth brush, and a hat with infantry badges. The soldier also gave him a self-portrait photo and said that his name was Paul Sakamoto.
• In his adulthood, he was looking for the soldier everywhere and finally made a reunion with Sakamoto 50 years later. He was a commander of the Chicago Nisei Post #1183 for some years.


Montrose Cemetery in Chicago's northside


The Chicago Nisei Post #1183


Gary Shimomura


Christian Choir led by Chelsea Dolinar Hikawa


Soyokaze Chorus group



The Buddhist chanting by Buddhist Ministers


Americo Bugliani’s wife, Ann Bugliani, can be seen at the center of the photo.