There are no great men, only great challenges that ordinary men are forced by circumstances to meet.
~ William F. Halsey
A lot has been written about the Nisei during World War II. The Japanese-American soldiers made it quite clear where their loyalties lay. So on this Memorial Day, I’m remembering the Seino brothers – two of the many who fought as loyal American soldiers, while not abandoning their Japanese ideals of honor and integrity.
Uncle Jim, as the older brother, enlisted as soon as he graduated from high school. Dad had to wait until he graduated in 1945. He enlisted, but the war ended before he had a chance to deploy. He settled for going to college and working, becoming an accountant. Uncle Jim stayed in the military, his career taking him all over the world.
And then the Korean Conflict broke out. Dad re-enlisted and went to the other side of the world. He fought, was wounded, and was sent home. And then he went back again. He and Uncle Jim connected there in the Orient. Dad said he always appreciated the way his brother looked out for him. It was because of Uncle Jim that after the fighting was done, Dad worked at the Central Exchange in Japan, where he met Mom.
I think both Dad and Uncle Jim would agree with Halsey’s quote. They both considered themselves ordinary men, forced by necessity to endure hardship, first through poverty during the Great Depression, a second time through social mistrust during the Second World War, and then living through combat itself. I never heard either man talk at length about any of these hardships. But we learned a lot about Uncle Jim’s integrity from the many testimonials during his wake. And we learned about Dad’s point of view from a letter he wrote to an army buddy. To our surprise, Dad wrote about the battle in which he was wounded in both legs by automatic weapons fire:
“I don’t think about it very often and I don’t let it bother me. I just think of it as another occurrence of the past and let it go at that, even though I am reminded of it constantly because of the leg problems. I am just glad that I had the chance to prove to myself what I would do in combat.”
They both definitely proved what they would do. They fought with honor and integrity. So on Monday, as we offer our support for our current men and women in uniform, I’m sending a special thanks to my favorite heroes – Robert and James W. Seino, US Army.
Slow progress on all fronts. Hope to have more to report next week!