Does history repeat itself?

The first month of 2023 is history already! Time just flies by these days…

Learning from history: Nisei families meet on the battlefields of Europe

Times change

In the past, January and February tended to be a time of relative quiet to recuperate and spend some time putting all the New Year’s resolutions into practice. After all, you promised yourself to do better with self-care…

Not so in 2023 though. We have mentioned changes brought about by the pandemic in the travel world before. It seems we’re not quite done yet with settling in to the “new normal”. After two non-active years, 2022 was the first “unleashing” of the travel urge for many people.

Still, not everyone felt quite comfortable just yet. However, that means there are even more people looking for a getaway this year. Everybody seems to be ready to get in on the action right now! Our own Spring tour has filled up already, which is very encouraging.

Lessons from the past

Even more encouraging is the number of requests we are getting for 2024. The 80th anniversary year for the 100th/442nd highlights their presence in Europe up to the Champagne Campaign in the south of France. They returned to Italy the following spring.

Each big anniversary invokes the question whether interest in events in history will remain. We saw a similar debate a few years ago with the centenary of World War 1. It is then no surprise that the same doubts are being expressed regarding the Second World War. Why should we still care? There have been other armed conflicts since…

Specific actions on the battlefields become events from a long-gone past for those born many years after the war. Nonetheless, the motivation for those who went to the front and the enduring gratitude of those in liberated territories – now often born long after the events as well – still carry an important message for us today.

At a time where we once again see increased racially motivated violence, a weakening of democratic values and war still looming over Europe, the broader perspective – not just battlefield action – of what happened 80 years ago remains relevant. It still holds important lessons for us today, regardless of what generation we are part of.

The Nisei understood at the time what was at stake. They saw the bigger picture behind the fighting that would ultimately lead to the restoring of freedom – both at home and abroad. Today, that understanding has to be passed on so we are better equipped to resist the forces that undermine those freedoms.

Learning from the past
Segment filmed during The Italian Campaign tour – September 2022. Video courtesy of AFN

Shaping the future

The interest in we see in focused tours indicates that people are still very much willing to increase their understanding. The challenging circumstances the Nisei faced didn’t diminish their determination to fight for what they felt was right. The local communities still voice the enduring impact they left today.

An old cliché perhaps, but it still holds true. “If we don’t learn from the past, history is bound to repeat itself”.  Providing opportunity to hear both sides of the story where it happened is our way of creating more opportunity for learning and understanding.

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