homepage logo

Nisei Veterans Memorial Center nearing completion

By Staff | Sep 22, 2011


WAILUKU — The Nisei Veterans Memorial Center (NVMC) has begun constructing the last segment of its $6.5 million campus, thanks to several recent major private contributions.

The drive was bolstered by NVMC Board Member Brian Moto’s leadership of the final $1.9 million phase of this capital campaign. Campus completion is anticipated by early next year.

NVMC’s $1.9 million capital campaign to complete the project is entitled “Marching Home for a Living Legacy.”

Over the next few months, it will seek the remaining funds to complete its Education Center, the last and crowning piece of its Wailuku “living memorial.”

The center is located on what is now a six-acre campus located close to Kahului Harbor, the initial portion of which had been contributed by Alexander & Baldwin Inc. nearly two decades ago.

The expanded campus was made possible in part by A&B’s second, more recent, donation of the adjacent parcel of land.

The 4,200-square-foot Education Center will house the organization’s extensive collections of memorabilia, historic information, library, oral history and educational classrooms.

The facility is dedicated to recounting the history of the Nisei veteran in World War II through its collections and the presentation of educational programs in collaboration with community groups to facilitate the passing down of generational values.

Educational programs that focus on the transmission of values, knowledge and cultural tradition to the community’s youth and families will be invited to be presented at the facility.

Anticipated programs include cultural, social, educational and arts-related activities and classes. Community, government and groups focused on veterans and youth activities are also anticipated.

Moto, J.D., 52, has accepted the general chair position of the campaign. Former County of Maui corporation counsel, Moto has been an NVMC board member for five years.

Currently, Moto serves as special assistant to the chancellor at the University of Hawaii Maui College. A Maui boy, Moto is the son of Kaoru Moto, who, as a private first class in the 100th Infantry Battalion, earned the United States’ highest military award, the Medal of Honor, a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart.

In addition to being actively involved on the NVMC board, he also currently serves on the boards of over a half-dozen worthy community organizations.

Moto’s motivation to lead the Marching Home capital campaign is both personal and led by his desire for societal improvement.

“My dad was a W.W.II veteran who served in the 100th Battalion. Growing up, our family attended activities of the Maui Chapter of ‘Club 100.’ From a young age, I learned about the valor of Japanese-American soldiers, and their moving and powerful story of confronting hardship and a fearsome enemy on the battlefield, and of overcoming poverty and racial discrimination at home,” Moto said.

“The NVMC’s mission of recounting this story so as to inspire and motivate others and transform our nation and community struck me — as I hope it does others — as a most important and worthy cause.

“With the completion of the NVMC campus, Maui and our country will gain one of its finest resources dedicated to the memory of Japanese-American soldiers and veterans, committed to improving the lives of all people, especially the young and the elderly, through education, service and the transmission of values that make for outstanding individuals and a just society. NVMC will be a venue for people from throughout our community, state and nation, and from many walks of life, to learn, study, share and build bonds of friendship, understanding and commitment.”

Other campaign leaders include Hiroshi Arisumi, NVMC board president; Leadership Segment Chair Paul K. Mizoguchi, vice president of BFS, with team members Hilton Unemori, Ryan Ouye and Nelson Okumura; Advanced Segment Chair Leonard Y. Oka, insurance agent with Mutual Underwriters, whose team is currently being recruited; and Major Segment Co-Chairs Mark Mizuno and Yuki-Lei Sugimura.

The Nisei Veterans Memorial Center is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, tax-exempt charitable organization. For information, visit www.nvmc.org/ or call 244-6862.