Meet Ben Kuroki, now 90 years old. A Nebraska-born Nisei (first-generation American of Japanese descent), he volunteered for the Army after Pearl Harbor, served on an elite B-24 bomber unit, was captured in North Africa and escaped, and flew 30 missions over Europe and another 28 over Japan. What fascinates is not so much Kuroki’s singularity as his shape-shifting symbolic weight. He addressed the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco in 1943, deploring racism, and was sent, in uniform, into the internment camps to talk fellow Nisei into accepting the draft. He has been valorized and scapegoated, and as we look at never-before-seen footage of the camps, we must ask all the embarrassing questions about America—as a nation of, and a sanctuary for, immigrants—that Congress currently ducks.
Most Honorable Son
September 17, 9 p.m.