2018 / National organization for Japanese American WWII soldiers to support elementary school curriculum that preserves legacy of Nisei soldiers

National Veterans Network and Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center to develop elementary school curriculum that teaches social justice and equal rights through the Nisei Soldier experience

WASHINGTON, D.C.  – The National Veterans Network announced on April 25, 2018, that the network has been awarded a $107,708 grant from the Department of Interior National Park Service through the Japanese American Confinement Sites grant program that will help fund the development of school curriculum for students in grades 2-5.

The National Veterans Network and the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center are working with a group of elementary school master teachers to develop and test the curriculum, which will lay the foundation for teaching social justice and equal rights through the stories of the Nisei Soldier experience.

“We are honored to receive the grant from the National Park Service, which will help the National Veterans Network and the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center as we work together to develop this special curriculum,” said Christine Sato-Yamazaki, executive director at the National Veterans Network.

“Our ultimate goal is to provide teachers with relevant resources and Do Something action tasks in the classroom based on the Smithsonian Nisei Soldier Congressional Gold Medal online exhibition using the stories of Nisei veterans and Japanese American incarceration as critical context.”

As part of the curriculum development initiative, the National Veterans Network and the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center organized a convening on Feb. 13, 2018, in Montgomery, Ala., with representatives from Teaching Tolerance, Washington DC Public Schools, the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, the Japanese American National Museum, and the National Japanese American Historical Society. Among the topics discussed were the importance of designing an accessible curriculum that classroom teachers can easily and comfortably apply potentially focused on short, impactful activities.

The convening also helped identify important points that will influence the overall design of the curriculum, such as helping students understand that actions based on bias are wrong and that they have ramifications and long-term effects. Also discussed was the pilot teacher institute that will be held in Washington, DC, during the summer of 2018, where four to five teachers will use the new curriculum in their classrooms the following fall.

The National Veterans Network will continue to work on initiatives to preserve the important role Japanese American World War II Soldiers played during World War II. Among the programs that the National Veterans Network is currently working on is developing an exhibit on World War II Nisei Soldiers for the National Museum of the United States Army.

The special exhibit will tell the story of the 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team and Military Intelligence Service through stories and artifacts, including the display of the Nisei Soldier Congressional Gold Medal from the Smithsonian. The contributions of the Nisei soldier will also be part of the National Army Museum’s timeline exhibit, which will show the societal impact and changes the U.S. Army has experienced since its inception.

The National Veterans Network is a consortium of organizations and individuals dedicated to educating the nation on the Japanese American WWII experience. The network launched the campaign to award the Congressional Gold Medal to the first Asian American recipients in the 100th, 442nd and MIS units, and worked with the U.S. Mint to design the medal.

In 2012, the network partnered with the National Museum of American History and the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service for a seven-city tour to promote recognition of the Japanese American experience. In 2016, along with the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center and Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, the National Veterans Network launched an online Digital Exhibition to share the story of Japanese American soldiers of WWII at cgm.smithsonianapa.org.

The National Veterans Network’s mission is to preserve, inform, and advocate how the Nisei Soldiers’ loyalty, courage, and patriotism embody American values and shape future decisions about justice and equality in a democracy.

To find out more about the National Veterans Network or to become a sponsor, send email to info@nationalveteransnetwork.com, visit www.nationalveteransnetwork.com, or follow the NVN on Facebook (@NationalVeteransNetwork) or Twitter (@NtlVetNetwork).

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