We are proud to present 2019’s Author and Guest Speaker Sandra Vea.
Sandra Vea was born and raised in Seattle. She earned a B.A. from the University of Washington, an M.Ed. from Western Washington University, and an M.A. from Seattle University. During the course of earning degrees, she developed skills in research and writing. She has worked as a public educator for 25 years.
When she met and started dating Alan Abe in 2007, she was eventually introduced to his parents, Masao and Doris. Sandra took an interest in them, they were like living history books, in her mind, and so whenever she spent time with them she would interview them, informally. After Masao or Doris would share pieces of their lives with her, she would then spend time researching. This included contacting historians, reaching out to professors, and reviewing books and literature pertaining to Japanese-American history.
To make sure she was on the right track, she would share what she had studied with Mas and Doris, showing them images she had discovered as well. By comparing her research with their memories, she could determine if she was on the right track as she wanted to record their history accurately. Soon, and with the permission of Masao and Doris, she started voice recording their memories.
After Doris died, Sandra spent two days a week with Masao and he continued to share details about his life as a youngster in Japan and as a soldier on the battlefield, some of the stories he had not shared with others. The Military Intelligence Service was a secret and sensitive operation during World War II and, because of that, MIS soldiers were forbidden to share their involvement in the war for 30 years after the war ended so he, and others like him, kept their stories and memories to themselves for most of their lives. Sandra understood this and knew that Masao’s story was very unique and special.
When Masao died on August 6, 2013, Sandra couldn’t keep his story inside. She had pages of notes and research as well as hours of voice recordings. She compiled all her work and wrote diligently for a year, researching further, until she completed a full manuscript. The book was initially written during a time of great emotion and was, at least in part, how Sandra processed her grief over the loss of her dear friend, Masao.
Sandra continues to support and advocate for Nisei soldiers; she regularly writes to the last of Masao’s army buddies, 102-year old Hiro Takahashi, and she attends military events that honors Nisei veterans and the military in general. While she misses Masao immensely, she is happy she knew him and is grateful to be able to share his story with others.
Enjoy photos of the 2018 Breakfast below. We’ll see you in November!