It began with the posting the flags, by the 100th/442nd Infantry Regiment Honor Guard, followed by the singing of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
Initially, the sell-out audience stood, but the voices were scanty, building up as more joined the chorus of folks proudly singing and demonstrating their patriotism.
This was at the Hawaii Theatre last night (March 18), at a “Defining Courage” screening that saluted and glorified the Nisei soldiers – largely from Hawaii – during World War II.
For those who missed it, a second screening will be held in April. So secure tickets, pronto, to avoid disappointment. On many levels, “Courage” is a winner.
The immersive program was a unique first — part documentary, part lecture with visuals, part history lesson, part musical concert, part salute to unsung heroes.
And wholly emotional, engaging and enlightening.
With Emmy-winning Los Angeles co-producers David Ono (who served as narrator) and Jeff MacIntyre (who handled behind-the-scenes needs as show director), “Defining Courage” was a celebration of the legacy of American wartime heroes, in vintage footage with more recently site visitations that demonstrated the valor and diligence of AJAs (Americans and Japanese Ancestry), in battles in France, Germany, Italy, Okinawa and Hawaii, who were instrumental in turning the pages of history to win the war.
It’s still a work in progress, and each performance in different cities, will vary. Actress Tamiyn Tomita, who introduced the film, was right on target when she ID’d the screening here as “Defining Courage, Aloha Edition.” Aloha was plentiful on screen, and in the theater.
Among the hundreds of spectators were families and relatives, whose grandfathers and fathers, served in the Army in the era depicted. The movie was a time for joy and tears, and loads of hurrahs and aloha.
Without a cheat sheet, to properly ID the luminaries on screen, I regrettably won’t chance it in fear of misspelling the names of GIs and battles depicted.
So, some random observations instead:
- The indominable spirit of the Nisei soldiers light up the screen; the scenes of their desire to serve and carry on the torch to victory, are emotional and incredible.
- A few soldiers kept journals, with sketches, that inspired and shaped the documentary; there are shared notebooks with hand-written, first-hand memories that should be shared with future generations.
- A small band of musicians, led by pianist-conductor Chris Wade (with Ericka Bar-David on violin, Kamuela Kahoano on guitar and ukulele, and Sibora Miloradovic on cello) performed periodically during the film, with alternating vocals by choir members (Jody Bill, Michael Covert, Andy Degan, Barrie Kealoha, Lauren Hanako Kincaide, Landon Lee and Emi Sampson) singing solo and/or as an ensemble. The newly minted numbers provided a new dimension to the visuals, with touching lyrics performed by powerful voices, but titles and composers were not properly identified in a hand-out program flyer.
- One of the on-screen heroes known throughout the world: the late Daniel K. Inouye, who served in the war, where he lost an arm, and as a civilian he served as Hawaii’s senior Congressman for decades.
- Two current icons – volunteers Jane Kurahara and Betsy Young, from the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii — are depicted in a brief segment regarding the efforts to establish and restore Honouliuli as a national park and historical site, for its wartime internment camp in the Ewa plains.
- Journalist Ono several times mentioned that the history books should be rewritten to include precious details and stories that recognize the valor and service of 100th 442nd soldiers who gave their lives. It might be prudent, too, to remember the 442nd battle cry, “Go for Broke,” which was not remembered or uttered in the program. And the 100th already has a nickname, 1-puka-puka, for its zeroes. Perhaps the 442nd “Broke” slogan could be properly recognized in the second presentation at 7 p.m. April 23, again at the Hawaii Theatre. Tickets: $25 to $50, on sale at www.hawaiitheatre.com or text (808) 528-0506. …
And that’s Show Biz. …