A True American Hero: A Short Story
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According to his father, Mensah was so intent on joining the military that he had been training in secret before enlisting. It took two attempts to convince his father that military service was the right choice and in December of , Mensah enlisted in the Army National Guard. Just a short while later, he became a U. Mensah was home on break the night of the fire — in fact, he was scheduled to start drilling with the th Military Police Company in January , less than one month later.
With everything to lose, he still chose to return to the blaze again and again, saving four people. New York Sen. Though his life and his service were cut short, Mensah embodied everything a U. This article was made possible with support from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. Starting in , the U. Inside is a razor blade, a match, and We wanted to share a story of Japanese American resistance: not to the initial eviction, but to the unjust and unconstitutional conditions of their incarceration. The widely known exceptions to the narrative of Japanese American compliance remain overwhelmingly male: the principled stances of Gordon Hirabayashi, Fred Korematsu, and Minoru Yasui, who took their cases to the Supreme Court alongside Endo; the collective organizing behind the Heart Mountain draft resisters, who refused to go from the camp to the U.
Thanks to the work of scholar Mira Shimabukuro, we learned more about—and dramatized the story of—the Issei women who were important to the draft resistance movement. By also featuring a Nisei woman, I hoped to deepen the narratives about who was resisting, and how. Layers of silence have veiled Endo and her case for years. It can mean a guarding of privacy. She did not participate in the testimonies of the s and s redress movement for reparations.
Asian Americans Advancing Justice, who had produced a short posthumous documentary honoring Endo, connected me with her children. Eventually Frank flew out to the Midwest to meet them. That same year, through a bibliographic reference at the Japanese American history site Densho, I found an academic journal article by Elissa Ouchida. I was excited; this tied Endo to a collective organized action. I also learned that a bad experience with one news reporter made Endo reluctant to grant interviews. Excerpt from We Hereby Refuse. Shortly thereafter, I requested copies of a folder of correspondence between Endo and her attorney, James Purcell, from the California State archives.
One particular exchange from September-October stood out. In late September, Purcell warned Endo that the government was sending a top War Relocation Authority attorney, Philip Glick, to offer her a plea bargain. If she dropped her habeas corpus case, the government would release her from camp. In that moment I recognized my own Nisei aunties, who made many quiet—but not silent—decisions for a collective good. When Endo refused, she was concerned about her personal safety; in the same letter to Purcell, she wondered about the possibility of anyone returning to California with her, given the hostile climate she had left in her home state.
Though Endo could have joined her sister in Chicago who had already been released , she did not, and remained behind barbed wire for months. That delay allowed her case to move forward until her unanimous victory in December She was not released until MayThe two surviving crew members faced typhoon sized waves, angry sharks, and A True American Hero: A Short Story shot at by Japanese pilots. It was an experimental fighter plane, Should Pitbulls Be Banned by Boeing 20th Century Immigrants given A True American Hero: A Short Story the Dbq Abigail Adams Miniseries. Ideas journalism with a head and a A True American Hero: A Short Story.