'Stepping off the road' for WWII veterans, laborers
It was the respectful custom during World War II that, when a group of marching soldiers encountered a troupe escorting the dead back to the homefront, the marchers would, as combat chaplain Israel A. S. Yost put it, "step off the road," and bow their heads.
Today, members of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and 100th Battalion, the Asian-American units made up of many Island men, and members of the community will "step off the road" to remember at the 125th anniversary of Kanyaku Imin Celebration at 'Iolani Palace.
The WWII veterans will "talk story," attend a ceremony honoring kanyaku imin (Japanese contract laborers), take a tour of 'Iolani Palace and enjoy Japanese folk dancing and a performance by 'ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro.
In keeping with the 442nd's "Go for Broke" motto, the event's theme is: "Kulia I Ka Nu'u," which translates as "Strive for the Summit." Queen Kapi'olani, wife of King Kalākaua, embraced that motto. And the king's visit to the Meiji emperor of Japan in 1881 was one impetus for Japanese workers to come here. In addition to the "Go for Broke" guys, the event, slated for 2 to 9 p.m., remembers members of the Military Intelligence Service (translators) and the 1399th Engineers (who built critical wartime structures and tunnels).
There are three ticket levels for this "remembrance, friendship and family fun" event presented by The Friends of 'Iolani Palace: $15, which includes the palace tour, reserved concert seating and fast pass to food lines and activities; $13 for active military personnel; and free to World War II AJA veterans and spouses or caregivers. The public will be admitted free to wander the grounds, talk with veterans, watch and participate in the "eisa" dance, which is similar to bon dance but serves as one of remembering rather than holding religious significance (bring a happi coat, yukata or kimono for a free gift).
Palace tours start at 2 p.m.; veteran talk story is 2:30-3:30 in the Kana'ina Building.; ceremony honoring World War II Japanese-American veterans, 4 p.m.; concert, 5 p.m.; eisa dance, 7 p.m. Food booths will be open throughout the event.