HONOLULU (KHON2) — The United States Postal Service released its upcoming forever stamps for 2021.
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Some of the stamps are fun, while others are for special occasions. However, only one is meant to honor the 33,000 Japanese American soldiers who served in the U.S. Army during World War II.
USPS is calling it the ‘Go For Broke’ stamp. It features a photo of Hawaii Nisei soldier, Shiroku ‘Whitey’ Yamamoto.
“He is representing the 442nd in this Go For Broke stamp, but I’m hoping that people really understand that there is a story behind the face,” said Shari Tamashiro, a cybrarian for Kapiolani Community College.
Tamashiro got to meet Whitey, and said she is excited about the new forever stamp because someone who isn’t famous, who never got the credit he deserved, finally is.
“He is like a really humble and sweet guy, but he’s not someone you would automatically think would be the face of the Go For Broke stamp,” she explained.
Whitey Yamamoto was born in 1923 on the Big Island.
Tamashiro said Whitey embodies the message, “Go For Broke.”
In his own words, Whitey told the Hawaii Nisei Story in part, “When you start something, accomplish it, no matter how difficult it is.”
Among his many achievements, Whitey helped build saddle road on Hawaii Island.
He also volunteered for the 442nd regimental combat team. Whitey was a Jeep driver.
“He wasn’t on the frontline. He wasn’t at the front like the other guys. He was more behind,” Tamashiro explained. “And he would talk a lot about the guilt he felt because he survived.”
Antonio Alcala was in charge of designing the Go For Broke stamp.
“A lot goes into them. It usually takes two to three years to get a stamp done,” Alcala said about the process of creating a forever stamp.
After a lot of research, a particular photo of Whitey from the Hawaii Nisei Story caught Alcala’s eye, and thus the photo was chosen to be the face of the new forever stamp.
Alcala has designed a number of forever stamps. He said the Go For Broke stamp is more than just a stamp.
“You know stamps are one of the only things that brand the United States in a way,” Alcala explained. “What we work on goes to Hawaii. It goes to Maine. It goes to Alaska. It goes to Puerto Rico and it goes to Texas, so everybody is seeing that.”
Thanks to the new stamp, Whitey’s story and the stories of all the Japanese American soldiers of World War II will live on forever.
“A number of [veterans] would ask me, Whitey did too, ‘When we are gone, will our story be forgotten? Will people forget about us?'” Tamashiro said, reflecting on her conversations with Hawaii Nisei soldiers. “I think what’s really special about this stamp is that it’s kind of one way that we can make sure that Whitey’s story, that their stories, are not forgotten,” she said.
To read more about Whitey Yamamoto’s story, click here.
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