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442nd would wear masks

Charging straight into enemy fire, Private First Class Sadao “Spud” Munemori had just knocked out a pair of gun emplacements with grenades and was withdrawing under withering fire when an enemy grenade bounced off his helmet and rolled toward a bomb crater where two of his comrades sheltered.

In one final heroic act, Munemori dove on top of the grenade to smother its blast and save the lives of his fellow soldiers. Monday marks the 76th anniversary of that World War II battle in the mountains above Seravezza, Italy. A Nisei, or second-generation Japanese American, Munemori was part of the United States Army’s famed 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his bravery and sacrifice.

Monday is National Go For Broke Day in honor of Munemori and the rest of the 442nd, a segregated, all-Japanese American unit that suffered grave losses and is one of the most decorated regiments in U.S. Army history. On Maui, we also remember the soldiers of the 100th and 442nd for what they did after they returned home.

Drawing on teamwork, self-sacrifice, community involvement and patriotic pride, they became teachers, civil servants, business leaders, union representatives, legislators and hard-working laborers. Off-hours saw many of them donating their time as coaches and volunteers, running everything from scout troops, sports leagues and swim meets to fundraising carnivals and fairs. A big part of their legacy is how much they helped others, how they made community a priority.

We wonder what brave Sadao Munemori would think of the me-first polarization of American politics, the penchant people have these days for placing themselves and their interests No. 1. Would he refuse to wear a mask though it has been proven to protect others? Would he be afraid to be vaccinated even though it would help the island reach herd immunity?

The military teaches soldiers to use the best, most recent intelligence available. That means drawing on trusted sources that can be vetted and confirmed. It also entails weeding out misinformation, separating conjecture from proven facts.

Health experts across the spectrum say masks help protect us from spreading and contracting COVID-19. Masks aren’t perfect, but they are one of the few tools we have to slow the contagion. The new vaccines are far better than we could have ever hoped for a year ago.

We are still learning about how long the vaccines will protect us from the coronavirus, but so far, they have proven to be safe and up to 95 percent effective in preventing moderate or severe disease and 100 percent of hospitalizations.

Sadao Munemori strikes us as the kind of man who would have done everything he could to protect his family and community. Happy Go For Broke Day.

* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.

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