• Keepers of the Flame

    Keepers of the Flame is an oral history project dedicated to recording and preserving the experiences of Japanese Americans living in the San Gabriel Valley before or after World War II

  • About Us

    "They are in their ‘twilight time’. The flame of their lives burns softer."

    History

    “Keepers of the Flame” is an oral history project of the ESGVJCC, started in late 2012; and is dedicated to recording and preserving the stories and personal histories of the Pre-World War II Japanese American pioneers of the San Gabriel Valley. Bacon Sakatani, a Nisei elder of the ESGVJCC, is the inspirational founder of the group. His reunion photo history of the Pre-War San Gabriel Valley, first published in 1987 along with the aging of the Nisei provided the compelling concerns to start the project.

    Purpose

    To date, there is no comprehensive documented history about the pioneering role that Japanese Americans performed in developing the San Gabriel Valley. With this collection of work it is our goal to preserve the stories of the aging Japanese American population and share the experiences with future generations. The current plans for the collected works is to be archived for public access and distributed in the following formats: digital archives, publications, oral performances, and readings, and documentaries.

  • Featured Interviews

    Ted Hamachi

    Ted Hamachi is a currently on the Board of Trustees at the ESGVJCC where he has previously served as Board President. As a devoted farmer, Ted likes to spend his free time volunteering at a local farm in West Covina called Hurst Ranch.

    Jim Yamashita

    Jim Yamashita was a member of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and is a recipient of the Purple Heart and Bronze Star. A retired businessman, Jim now spends his time working on educational projects including his most recent project, “Echoes of Silence,” which contains the profiles of every killed-in-action (KIA) Nisei soldier.

  • "It is time to gather their stories so that the light, warmth and wisdom of their lives will never be extinguished or forgotten"

    - Robert Fumio Leong

  • Featured Volunteers

    Our dedicated volunteers that work tirelessly to support Keepers of the Flame. Whether it be conducting interviews or transcribing them, this project would not be where it is today without their generous help.

    Robert Fumio Leong

    Interviewer

    Robert Fumio Leong and his family have been members of the ESGVJCC for 18 years. He has previously served on the ESGVJCC Board of Directors. Bob currently works as a Freelance Corporate Communication Specialist.

     

    "For me, the Keepers of the Flame project preserves the vital stories of our Elders. Their stories tell us a great deal about who we are as individuals and as a community. Their lives have been powerful molders of the Japanese American identity, and their stories prod any one of us to ask; 'what would I have done … then?'"

    Margaret Holderness

    Transcriber

    Margaret Holderness lives with her husband of 24 years, Robert Holderness, and their two Australian Shepherds, Emma and Kodi. They are both retired and relocated from Monrovia, CA to Paso Robles, CA (Central Coast). To keep herself busy, she works part time at a winery (Tackitt Family Vineyards) and was recruited by ESGVJCC board member, Grace Richardson, her sister, to help transcribe Keepers of the Flame interviews.

     

    "When I first became involved with Keepers of the Flame, I am a little embarrassed to say, but I knew very little about the internment camps. My mother shared her family experiences when they were intervened at Tule Lake. But listening to several of the interviews as they share their heartfelt stories and difficult situations their families endured during this very sad time made me more inquisitive about my cultural background. This made me want to embrace my culture and become more aware of the hardship that my ancestors endured. Now I understand where I get the 'gaman' attitude."

    JPNT 177 - Spring 2016

    Interviews & Transcribers

    Coming Soon...

  • "Their lives have been powerful molders of the Japanese American identity, and their stories prod any one of us to ask; 'what would I have done…then?'"

    - Robert Fumio Leong

  • Intern Profiles

    Thank you to our wonderful interns that have poured endless hours into recruiting, conducting, and transcribing interviews.

    Tony Tang

    Summer 2016

    Tony is a rising senior at Cal State University, Los Angeles. He was an intern at the ESGVJCC during the summer of 2016 through the Leadership In Action Program and got involved with Keepers of the Flame. Tony plans on working with youths in the Asian and Pacific Islander (API) community.

    Courtney Richardson

    Fall 2015

    Courtney worked on Keepers of the Flame as an intern with the ESGVJCC during the fall of 2015. Courtney is a graduate of UC Santa Cruz and has great love for the environment. She is currently spending her time backpacking across Eastern Europe.

    Avalon Igawa

    Summer 2015

    Avalon is currently a Junior at the University of Southern California. Avalon was involved with Keepers of the Flame as a Leadership in Action (LIA) intern during the summer of 2015. Originally from Seattle, Avalon is an avid frisbee player and the President of USC's Student Coalition for Asian Pacific Empowerment (SCAPE).

    Julie Mac

    Summer 2014

    Julie became involved with Keepers of the Flame when she interned at the ESGVJCC during the summer of 2014 through the Leadership in Action (LIA) Program. Julie is currently teaching English in Matsuyama City, Japan as part of the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program (JET).

  • Connect With Us

    Check us out on Social Media!

    Facebook

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  • Contact Us!

    Feel free to contact us if you have any questions or comments

  • Archived Interviews

    See our library of conducted interviews

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