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Like so many Japanese Americans born in the years following World War I, Ted Tsukiyama was shaped by the Great Depression, fought with honor in World War II – even as other Japanese Americans were exiled in internment camps – and went on to contribute much to his country’s success and prosperity. In a life that has spanned nearly a century, he has been a proud member of the U.S. Army’s 442nd Regimental Combat Team, a military intelligence operative in the jungles of Burma, a groundbreaking Nisei student at Yale Law School, an internationally renowned attorney dubbed “Mr. Arbitration” and a missionary of the art of bonsai. Now, at age ninety-six, Hawaii’s Ted Tsukiyama shares his story in his own words. Here is the riveting memoir of a community leader, historian, public speaker and – above all – ardent American citizen.
Ted T. Tsukiyama was born in 1920 and grew up in Kaimuki, Oahu, the second youngest in a family of five siblings. A graduate of Roosevelt High School, Tsukiyama went on to enroll at the University of Hawaii at Manoa in 1939. His college education interrupted by the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the United States’ entry into World War II, Tsukiyama becaume a founding member of the first volunteer all-Nisei unit of WWII, the Varsity Victory Volunteers and went on to join what would become the famed 442nd Regimental Combat Team. Tsukiyama was discharged in 1946 and, thanks to the GI Bill, continued his education, ultimately graduating from Yale Law School. Throughout his half-century-long career specializing in legal arbitration, Tsukiyama found time to devote to his hobbies: bonsai cultivation and historical research, which he continues to this day. He is a lifelong member of Harris Memorial Church.
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