- Daimaruya Miyuki
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The Motivation to Serve in the Korean War and Resettlement : Analyzing Interviews with Japanese American Nisei Veterans
Journal of National Fisheries University Volume 70 Issue 4 pp. 185 - 198
In the United States, the Korean War (1950–1953) has long been known as the “forgotten war.” However, the war was a watershed for racial minorities in the U.S. military. The U.S. racial policy was changed drastically after U.S. president Harry S. Truman signed Executive Order 9981 in 1948. This study analyzes the military service of Japanese American Nisei (the second generation) who served in the Korean War. The goal of this study is to clarify the transitions of social status of Nisei before and after their service. The paper highlights the Nisei’s motivation to serve in the military, using semi-structured interviews of Californian veterans that I conducted from 2008 to 2019. Most were Nisei and had U.S. citizenship as their birthright. However, their citizen status was insecure even in the fifties, and racial discrimination prevented them from obtaining adequate employment or college education. The Korean War GI Bill benefits definitely supported them after they returned from the battlefield. In this sense, military service in the Korean War became a pathway to success in the post-internment era for Nisei, yet it also revealed their unstable social status. This paper categorizes their motivations to serve from three elements ： socioeconomic reasons, honor and dignity as U.S. soldiers, and their loyalty and patriotism for the United States. The multiple voices of my interviewees shows that while their difficult situations were certainly critical elements among their motivations for service, their various experiences still should not be considered as simply monolithic.
Creators : Daimaruya Miyuki Publishers : National Fisheries University