Kazuo Otani

Kazuo Otani was born in Visalia, a small town of a few thousand in California, to parents who were immigrants from Japan. 

He was living in the Gila River War Relocation Center in Arizona when he enlisted in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team during WWII. The group, made up mostly of Japanese Americans, would become one of the most decorated units of its size.

As a soldier, “Staff Sergeant Kazuo Otani distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in action on 15 July 1944, near Pieve Di S. Luce, Italy. Advancing to attack a hill objective, Staff Sergeant Otani’s platoon became pinned down in a wheat field by concentrated fire from enemy machine gun and sniper positions. Realizing the danger confronting his platoon, Staff Sergeant Otani left his cover and shot and killed a sniper who was firing with deadly effect upon the platoon. Followed by a steady stream of machine gun bullets, Staff Sergeant Otani then dashed across the open wheat field toward the foot of a cliff, and directed his men to crawl to the cover of the cliff. When the movement of the platoon drew heavy enemy fire, he dashed along the cliff toward the left flank, exposing himself to enemy fire. By attracting the attention of the enemy, he enabled the men closest to the cliff to reach cover. Organizing these men to guard against possible enemy counterattack, Staff Sergeant Otani again made his way across the open field, shouting instructions to the stranded men while continuing to draw enemy fire. Reaching the rear of the platoon position, he took partial cover in a shallow ditch and directed covering fire for the men who had begun to move forward. At this point, one of his men became seriously wounded. Ordering his men to remain under cover, Staff Sergeant Otani crawled to the wounded soldier who was lying on open ground in full view of the enemy. Dragging the wounded soldier to a shallow ditch, Staff Sergeant Otani proceeded to render first aid treatment, but was mortally wounded by machine gun fire.”

For his actions, Kazuo was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, which was upgraded to a Medal of Honor in 2000. 

Note: The writing on the photograph says “To Mom & Dad” in the upper left corner and “your son! Kazuo” in the bottom right. 

Sources: https://www.fallenheroesproject.org/united-states/kazuo-otani/ & https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kazuo_Otani


People always say that I didn’t give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn’t true. I was not tired physically, or no more tired than I usually was at the end of a working day. I was not old, although some people have an image of me as being old then. I was forty-two. No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in.

Paul Newman

“The first time I remember women reacting to me was when we were filming Hud in Texas. Women were literally trying to climb through the transoms at the motel where I stayed. At first, it’s flattering to the ego. At first. Then you realize that they’re mixing me up with the roles I play — characters created by writers who have nothing to do with who I am.”

– Paul Newman

Source: Paul and Joanne: A Biography of Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward by Joe Morella and Edward Z. Epstein (Delacorte Press, 1988, ISBN 0-440-50004-4), p. 96

Anthony Bowen

Anthony Bowen

Anthony Bowen was born into slavery in Prince George’s County, MD in 1809. Determined to build a life as a free man, he would moonlight as a painter and bricklayer, earning enough money to purchase his freedom in 1830 for $425. Shortly after, he purchased his wife’s freedom.

He began work at the U.S. patent office. Where he started as a laborer, moved up to messenger, and then a clerk, becoming the first African American clerk at the patent office.

Outside of his work, his home became a stop on the underground railroad station. It is said that he “built an extra attic in which to hide runaway slaves.”

Anthony would go on to become a founder and president of the world’s first African-American YMCA. And “he led the advocacy for local and federal governments to fund public education for black children, prompting Congress to fund, in 1868, the first free public school for black children in Southwest Washington, the E Street School. Just prior to his death, Bowen was elected to the 68th Common Council of Washington from 1870–1871.”

He passed away in 1871. His funeral was attended by many in the community.

Sources: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthony_Bowen…http://www.ymcadc.org/page.cfm?p=42

John Steinbeck quote

John Steinbeck

“In every bit of honest writing in the world there is a base theme. Try to understand men, if you understand each other you will be kind to each other. Knowing a man well never leads to hate and nearly always leads to love.”