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Memorial Day service honors Japanese American veterans

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Posted at 9:49 PM, May 29, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-31 21:48:42-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- Japanese Americans from Utah who served in WWII and elsewhere were honored at a Memorial Day service in Salt Lake City Sunday.

Every year for more than 50 years, Raymond Uno has worked hard along with many within his organization, The Utah Asian Chamber of Commerce, and The Japanese American Citizens League to bring Japanese American families together to honor those made the ultimate sacrifice.

“Now we are getting some of the younger people involved, and we are getting the three chapters of the Japanese American citizens involved, and the churches involved,” Uno said.

He said it has been an ongoing challenge, as many members of the Japanese community used to be concentrated on the west side of the Salt Lake Valley but have since moved around more.

“So, it's been harder and harder to contact these people and keep them involved in the culture, and we want to do things like this to get them to come to remember there was a Japanese community that made significant contributions during the war time," Uno said.

Veteran Masami Hayashi was a second lieutenant with the United States military.

He said he was drafted as a teenager to the Military Intelligence Service and worked with generals as an interpreter and translator in Manila, Philippines.

He was pleased to see so many young children at the Memorial Day service to honor his fallen friends.

“I feel thankful there is someone like them who are willing to help us keep it active,” Hayashi said.

But he was also hit with a sad reality, as at the age of 93 he doesn't have many friends from that era left.

“I think the main thing that struck me is that I don't have many friends left from WWII," he said. "I'm missing a lot of people. That's the first thing I notice. I'm the only one around. The others are either sick or not able to walk.”

However, he knows the children who attended on Sunday will be able to remind their children of the sacrifice his generation gave for centuries to come.

The service on Sunday was held at the Salt Lake City Cemetery at the World War II Japanese American veteran’s monument, located at about 951 East and 11th Ave. in Salt Lake City.