was, as far as he knew, just a small-town boy who’s parents were farmers. Born in South Dakota in 1921 to Japanese immigrant parents, Kenny loved baseball, apple pie, and his hometown of Spearfish, SD. Folks in town never thought about the Higashi’s heritage, other than that their excellent farming techniques were to be admired. Mrs. Higashi’s healthy starter plants grew in many Spearfish gardens. Kenny grew up a South Dakotan – an American – and he loved it.
This peaceful life changed December 7, 1941, when the country of Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. In some parts of the country Japanese Americans were suspected loyalists to Japan. Would that happen in the Heartland? If Kenny wondered at all, he didn’t have long. In February, 1942, he remembers two men in uniform coming to the Higashi’s farmhouse. They took the family radio and shotgun, and made a proposition that would forever change Kenny’s life.
Read more about Kenny in my new book about Kenny’s life and service, to be published by South Dakota Historical Society Press in April 2022.