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Veterans Day: In memoriam Hiroshi Miyamura

I grew up in Gallup, New Mexico, where the late Medal of Honor winner was born and lived all his life outside his military service time. As the feature part of a newspaper Veterans Day special, I did an "in memoriam" along with reminiscing about life there, aided in part by this great story by the LA Times.

The brick is from a Medal of Honor park where I currently live — which has a Medal of Honor weekend every year — but still has a Confederate statue on the county courthouse square and refuses to promote the Great Hanging site along with Medal of Honor events.

As you can perhaps see in column two, I note the "Nisei" angle. Further on, on the next page of the paper, I mention someone else slightly older, probably about the same age as Mr. Matsutani the postman. This person, while not from Gallup, was from the US Southwest. That would be Ira Hayes. I mentioned him because of racial takes on his alcohol abuse, after Miyamura mentioned racism in the Army, though not Gallup. (Given what I know of Miyamura as a person, I think there was some glossing there.)

I then talk about veterans and PTSD before wrapping things up with more reminiscing of my own childhood in Gallup a bit, picking up from the thread at the end of the first page. It's more than living in the same town. Miyamura lived in our neighborhood, and depending on my exact route of walking to elementary school, I would have gone by his house.

Obviously, this is not a takedown obit, as I often do with famous politicians. It's the real deal.
As for Gallup? I tell people that, it's about as close as you can get in the US to a stereotypical developing world, non-urban megalopolis. A lot of non-Southwestern Anglos who move out there (primarily for medical student debt forgiveness by working at the largest Indian Health Service hospital in the nation outside of Alaska) leave as soon as they can. Time issues are one thing. It's not that Navajos, especially, are late. Rather, it's that the conception of time is less precise. That said, in the non-Southwestern world, Country People (sic on spelling out the initials that way) was long that way. 
More seriously than that, though. Many Navajos may belong to the Native American Church, but that has just a thin veneer of Christianity over an amalgam of American Indian beliefs. Traditionalist Navajos still abound. Puebloan peoples, on the other hand, such as at Acoma and Zuni, practice in many cases Catholicism, but behind a deeper veneer of that is the religion of their pueblo. (No, different Indian tribes don't have the same religious beliefs; even within the Puebloan world, not all are the same.) Since the 1690s Spanish reconquista never came out to the Hopi mesas, there's not even a veneer of Western monotheism for them, in many cases.
Anyway, on that aspect? Miyamura's family went to a Japanese Methodist church in Gallup.

This post first appeared on SocraticGadfly, please read the originial post: here

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Veterans Day: In memoriam Hiroshi Miyamura


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