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Memorial Day services on Capitol Hill honor those who gave all

Memorial Day services on Capitol Hill honor those who gave all

By Sonia Krishan
May 27, 2008

The Japanese-American veterans arrived at Lake View Cemetery Monday morning, just as they had every Memorial Day for more than 50 years.

They wore ties printed with the American flag and caps stitched with the word "Nisei." Some used walkers to steady their balance. Others held the hands of their wives as they took their seats.

Every Memorial Day since 1946, the Seattle area's Nisei Veterans Committee has held a service on Capitol Hill to honor Japanese-American soldiers from the Northwest killed in action. Many fought overseas while their families were confined to U.S. internment camps during World War II.

The event was one of several held around the region Monday to honor the nation's military veterans. At the Wall of Remembrance in downtown Seattle, the names of nearly 20 servicemen who have died in the line of duty during the past year were added to the memorial.

Nearly 50 veterans, some well into their 90s, attended Monday's Nisei Veterans ceremony at Lake View. They came, they said, because how could they not?

The event was about honor, respect, appreciation. They say they were lucky to make it home after combat. The ones who died must not be forgotten, they said.

Community leaders, government officials and families of the veterans gathered on the grounds near the Nisei War Memorial Monument, a 21-foot obelisk carved from granite that was dedicated on Memorial Day in 1949.

A light rain fell as the program started. The Pledge of Allegiance was recited. Then a young man began to sing the national anthem.

The veterans looked ahead and stood silently, some with right hands to their hearts. Others stood at attention, weathered fingers raised in salute.

Kimitomo Muromoto, 85, of Bellevue, said World War II feels like a lifetime ago. Still, there are memories of when he was 21 and serving in Italy and France that flash through his mind with white-hot clarity, he said.

But mostly, he focuses on his fellow servicemen. How they became like brothers on the front lines. And how so many never got the chance to come home.

A missing father

Outside downtown Seattle's Benaroya Hall, Kathie Schuler-Hobbs, of Astoria, Ore., appeared stoic Monday as her father's name was unveiled Monday on the Garden of Remembrance. His was among 19 new names etched onto the granite wall, which honors Washington state's war dead.

Alfred Schuler died on Nov. 10, 1942, during combat in the Solomon Islands.

"I'm a little overwhelmed," Schuler-Hobbs said after the ceremony.

Schuler-Hobbs said she has spent much of the past few years retracing the steps of the father she never met — Alfred Schuler died two months before his daughter was born. Schuler-Hobbs said her family rarely talked about him, and she is trying to find people who knew him or might know where his remains are.

"I don't know where his body is or whether he was recovered," she said. "My goal is to bring him home."

The 19 soldiers' names joined the more than 8,000 names listed on the wall at Second Avenue and University Street. The $3.5 million memorial, conceived and funded by the late philanthropist Priscilla "Patsy" Bullitt Collins and designed by the late landscape architect Robert Murase, was dedicated in July 1998.

On way to Iraq

While most of the soldiers honored in the Monday ceremony died in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past year, one Spokane family said their loved one died almost four years ago — a week before he was supposed to land in Iraq.

Marine Pfc. Dennis Mitchell II, 19, died of heatstroke during a training hike in Japan on July 23, 2004, said his mother, Roseanne Love.

Love, her husband, her children and her sister gathered at the memorial dressed in matching white sweat shirts featuring a photo of Mitchell in his Marine dress uniform.

"It was the saddest day of our lives," Love said of her son's death.

Though Love called the event an honor for their family, she said that having her son's name added to the wall wasn't easy. Love said that because her son died outside of Iraq and Afghanistan, and not during combat, she had to contact congressmen, Gov. Christine Gregoire and write letters to the White House.

"It's peace for the family," Love said. "I want him to be remembered and acknowledged like any other soldier."

Sonia Krishnan: 206-515-5546 or

Jennifer Sullivan: 206-464-8294 or