By Richard Bammer
The 20th-century German novelist Thomas Mann once wrote, “War is a cowardly escape from the problems of peace,” and it is certainly hellish, as Civil War Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman famously noted.
The problems of peace and the hell of war specifically affected the many American veterans of 20th-century wars and also many Japanese-Americans interned during World War II whose dreams of high school graduation evaporated with the advent of armed conflicts.
During the 1940s, ’50s, ’60s and ’70s, millions of young men and women left high school and their homes to serve in the U.S. military. Consider that more than 14 million were on active duty in 1945 alone, according to Department of Defense data.
Additionally, during World War II Japanese-American citizens were forced into detention camps across the United States, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt on Feb. 19, 1942, signed an executive order relocating some 110,000 Japanese-Americans away from the West Coast after the Dec. 7, 1941, bombing of Pearl Harbor. Some young Japanese-American men, rather than stay in the camps, were later permitted to enlist in the U.S. armed forces. Notably, the 442nd Infantry Regiment, composed mostly of Japanese-American men, became the most decorated unit of its size in U.S. military history.