Thursday, February 21, 2013


A Celebration


On an unseasonably warm Chicago afternoon, January 15 2006, a small group of family and friends sat down for lunch at Yoshi's Cafe.  It was more than sushi and sake that lured the diners to the elegant French-Japanese fusion restaurant. They were there to witness the culmination of one of the strangest sagas in American history. Convicted of treason in 1949 and pardoned by President Ford in 1977, Iva Toguri, known to many as the notorious "Tokyo Rose" was about to receive the 2006 Veterans Commission Edward J. Herlihy Medal for loyalty and patriotism.

All eyes riveted on the 89 year old Japanese-American woman as she stood to receive the award.  Her steady gaze softened as James C. Roberts, president of the American Veterans Center, placed the red-white-and blue ribbon with medallion around her neck.  With faces wreathed in smiles, the small assembly burst into applause.  Finally, the myth of the World War II traitor "Tokyo Rose" was dispelled.  On this day the diminutive American patriot Iva Toguri stood tall.

Toguri returned home that evening a happy woman. Her ordeal was over. Over the past 65 years she had resigned herself to the possibility that she would always be branded - "Tokyo Rose". Her redemption was now complete.  In the eyes of those who mattered most, the World War II veterans, she was not a traitor.  She was a hero. Although there is no record of what Iva was thinking that wintry evening as she climbed into her bed and put her head on her pillow, one can imagine her thoughts drifting back to that fateful summer morning - July 5, 1941 - when a good Samaritan mission took her to the wrong place at the wrong time.

To be continued

Iva Toguri

The Myth of "Tokyo Rose"

Iva Toguri

Her name was Iva Toguri, but she called herself "Orphan Ann".  Six nights a week she hosted the Zero Hour.  The World War II Japanese propaganda radio program broadcast to Allied troops throughout the Pacific.  Her orders were to play music, and demoralize troops with insidious messages about lost battles on the front and lost lovers at home.

 In collaboration with a swashbuckling Australian prisoner of war, she attempted to subvert Japanese propaganda by turning the Zero Hour into a parody.  She risked her life to provide Allied prisoners in Tokyo with food and medicine.  Although she was one of several female broadcasters nicknamed "Tokyo Rose" by American GIs, only Iva Toguri was arrested and found guilty of treason. She was innocent.  Oppressed by the Japanese military and persecuted by the FBI, she never lost faith in her country.  The ordeal of Iva Toguri is a remarkable tale of grit, loyalty and redemption.

To be continued future posts "The Myth of Tokyo Rose"