For all the WWII movies, novels, mini-series and documentaries, nothing brings the era more to life than meeting someone who lived it.
My grandfather and other family members served in combat – my great uncle died fighting in Europe – and their stories resonate in a way that’s difficult to convey.
In the same way, it’s a challenge to describe meeting Carl Yoshimine.
Yoshimine, 87, welcomed our MarComm video team into his quaint Anaheim home to interview him about the honorary degree he will receive from San Diego State University next week.
He sat in his living room rocking chair and recalled his freshman year at SDSU in 1941. The San Diego native easily made friends and assimilated into the campus community.
“But then the war broke out,” he told us. “And that ripped the rug out from my foundation.”
Yoshimine was forced to abruptly leave school when the United States began relocating Japanese Americans from along the Pacific coast to inland internment camps.
He calmly recalled the events that transpired – from Pearl Harbor to his internment and eventual release to pursue his education and the rest of his life in America.
He felt little ill will about the past. If anything, he credited the United States and its citizens for their capacity to admit prior wrongs and confront them.
Yoshimine and his wife Miko – who next week will celebrate their 57th wedding anniversary – invited us to join them for lunch. We couldn’t accept, but he would not let us leave without a bag of cookies and other treats.
Yoshimine, as charming a man as I’ve ever met, posed for photographs outside his home and thanked us profusely while walking us to our car.
Thank you, Carl.