Thursday, November 10, 2011

Picture Book Month: Heroes

What it looks like in the Middle: 
This is a short mini lesson used before the students leave for Veteran's Day weekend.

On November 1, 2011, Japanese-American veterans of the 100th Infantry Battalion and 442nd Regimental Combat Team received Bronze Stars. They also received Congressional Gold Medals on November 2 for their contributions during World War II.

Soon after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, all Japanese (both Japanese nationals and their American children) living in America were relocated to internment camps. When Japanese Americans were allowed to volunteer with the 100th Infantry Battalion, they were able to remove their status as "enemy aliens" and prove that they loved America too. These young men, AJAs (Americans of Japanese Ancestry), volunteered even when their families remained in the internment camps.

The 442nd Regimental Combat Team became the most highly decorated regiment in the history of the United States armed forces. For my students in Hawaii, the story of the 100th Battalion is often a personal story of a relative, so I like to start our conversation on honoring all our veterans with Ken Mochizuki's Heroes.

This story takes place in the Vietnam-era 60's and the protagonist, Donnie, often must play the enemy in games because his friends say he looks like one of the enemies. Donnie's father and uncle, both decorated soldiers are reluctant to step in and help, but in the end when they do come out in their uniform and medals, it is not to boast or help Donnie lord it over his friends. Like the brown-shaded pictures, this message is more earthy and subdued and dignified.

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