Weihsien concentration camp liberator,
... the unedited, unabridged interview produced by National Public Radio for a series of remembrances of World War II veterans who died in 2013. National Public Radio aired the brief remembrances on its program, All Things Considered, in the days following Memorial Day.
The 3-minute remembrance of Tad Nagaki was aired on May 25, 2013.
Here’s how the production went: On May 17, in NPR’s studios in Washington, D.C., senior producer Art Silverman of All Things Considered interviewed Weihsien concentration camp survivor, Mary Previte, in a WHYY recording studio in Philadelphia.
How does National Public Radio in Washington, D.C., find Mary Previte in New Jersey for an interview about Tad Nagaki, a deceased World War II veteran who had farmed in Alliance, Nebraska, for 50 years?
JAVA, the Japanese-American Veterans Association, was the connecting link.
With a national search in 1997, Mary Previte tracked down the six Americans who had liberated the Weihsien concentration camp in China where Mary and her siblings had been interned for almost three years by the Japanese. Mary followed with her own, private pilgrimage, crisscrossing America to say thank you to each of her six heroes face to face.
What makes an American hero? Mary took years, digging into each man’s story to find her answers.
Born in Nebraska, Tad Nagaki is Japanese-American. For Mary’s Tad Nagaki magazine article, she asked tough questions. “Didn’t you know what the Japanese would do to you if they caught you behind Japanese lines? And what would the Americans do to you if they thought you were Japanese?”
“You don’t think about that if you want to be a good soldier,” Tad told Mary. Tad always insisted he is not a hero. “I only did what any American would have done,” he said.
JAVA found the Tad Nagaki article and spread it around the world on their web site. And when Mary wrote Tad Nagaki’s eulogy, JAVA printed that on their web site, too.
Mary and Tad had became fast friends. In 2010, she flew to Alliance, Nebraska, for a community-wide celebration to honor Tad’s 90th birthday. At his birthday dinner, to eighty of Tad’s family and close friends, Mary told the amazing Tad Nagaki story. Mary wasn’t the only one weeping that evening. Hardly anyone in Alliance, Nebraska, even knew that they had been living side-by-side for fifty years with a hero.
Intent on including a Japanese-American in its Memorial Day week remembrances, National Public Radio found the JAVA web site and Mary’s eulogy for Tad Nagaki.
What follows is the unedited NPR interview. #