Rebuilding the Honor Roll at Minidoka
In 2010, The Friends of Minidoka was awarded a $17,295 grant from the National Parks Service (NPS) to re-establish the Honor Roll at the Minidoka National Historic Site. (See NPS grant program news [PDF]
What is the Honor Roll?
In 1943, President Roosevelt established the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, an all-Nisei unit, and called for volunteers from the ten internment camps. Most of the Japanese families from Washington and Oregon were sent to Minidoka in south central Idaho. While Minidoka had 7 percent of the males at all of the centers, it provided 25 percent of the volunteers. Eventually, over 1,000 Nisei from Minidoka would volunteer to serve in the armed forces. As a way of honoring the sacrifices of those who volunteered, an Honor Roll was constructed in the Victory Garden just inside the entrance to Minidoka. The Honor Roll listed the name of each individual from Minidoka who volunteered to serve.
No records exist indicating what happened to the Honor Roll after Minidoka was closed in 1945. However, based on historic photographs, FOM Board member Bill Vaughn prepared construction plans for the Honor Roll, which were used for its re-creation.
Honor Roll Dedicated at 2011 Pilgrimage
After years of planning and information gathering, the Minidoka Honor Roll has become a reality! The Honor Roll was re-established at the entrance to Minidoka National Historic Site and dedicated at the 2011 Minidoka Pilgrimage. Every year, the names of fallen Minidoka soldiers are read on the last day of the Pilgrimage. During the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Kay Endo, a WWII Nisei veteran, read the names, and with the newly installed Honor Roll as a backdrop, the moment was full of tears.
Bill Vaughn, Friends of Minidoka board member and retired architect, oversaw much of the installation. Superintendent Wendy Janssen noted that his help was instrumental in making the project possible. Anna Tamura of NPS and Keith Yamaguchi, Commander of the Nisei Veterans Committee in Seattle, worked with the community to research the names. FoM thanks all those who worked on this project! Local news coverage of the event.