Many may not know or appreciate that the City of Bruyeres in France and Honolulu are sister cities…why the connection? It has to do with the liberation of Bruyeres in the Vosges Mountains of France from Nazi occupation by the Nikkei soldiers of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and 100th Battalion. On Saturday, March 23rd, the Sons and Daughters of the 442nd RCT held a memorial service at Waikiki’s Army Museum to remember all who served.
As a special feature of the memorial service, 442nd veterans and leaders of the community paid a tribute by placing folded paper cranes at either the photo of a departed Medal of Honor winner or a special memorial for all who had served. The Japan-America Society of Hawaii (JASH) was invited to be a participant in the service, and chose to have the Society represented by Junior Ambassadors for the Asian-Pacific Children’s Convention (APCC) in Fukuoka. Eleven-year-olds Kiana Kawahara and Cole Ichikawa presented a paper crane in memory of the 442nd veterans, but with a slight twist. JASH President Ed Hawkins had planned a private trip to Europe when he learned about this memorial service. He contacted the members of the Peace and Freedom Trail Association in Bruyeres, France to see if they could assist in having the children of Bruyeres fold a paper crane that Mr. Hawkins could bring back for this ceremony. Mr. Hawkins stopped by Bruyeres during his trip and received the paper crane from the President of the Peace and Freedom Trail Association, Mr. Martial Hillaire and Vice-President Christian DeVille. This is the paper crane that Kiana and Cole presented on March 23rd.
The paper crane from Bruyeres was made by the students of Jeanne D’arc school, sister school of Le Jardin Academy in Honolulu. JASH was pleased to assist in this symbolic act of friendship and respect from the people of Bruyeres to the people of Hawaii, and to honor the memory of the Nikkei soldiers.