The Nisei Veterans Memorial Center was incorporated as a nonprofit corporation in Hawaii in December 1991 with a mission of building a lasting tribute to the Nisei veterans of World War II.
But its beginning goes back almost a decade to 1982, when Leonard Oka founded Maui’s Sons and Daughters of the 442, the first such organization in the nation. His father, Clarence “Hekka” Oka, was a veteran of 442.
Led by Maui's Sons and Daughters of Nisei Veterans founder Leonard Oka, NVMC was founded originally to be the responsible receptacle and caretaker of memorabilia, artifacts and history of Nisei veterans. A wider vision and desire to see positive community impact through lessons learned from the valor and values of Nisei veterans led to the development of the “living memorial” of the NVMC campus. The gift of two acres of land from Maui's Sons and Daughters of Nisei Veterans to NVMC set the stage for 20 years of facility development.
Leonard Oka founds Maui’s Sons and Daughters of the 442, the first such organization in the nation. His father, Clarence “Hekka” Oka, is a veteran of the 442nd RCT.
Maui's Sons and Daughters of the 442nd approve formation of the Nisei Veterans Memorial Center.
Maui’s Sons and Daughters of the 442 write a letter to Alexander & Baldwin, Inc, requesting a donation of land to develop a multipurpose center and museum.
March 25, 1985 – a deed for approximately 2.024 acres of land at lot 2-A of the Owa Subdivision in Wailuku was given to the Maui’s Sons and Daughters of the 442 from A&B.
Alexander & Baldwin, Inc. grants 2.024 acres. A deed for approximately 2.024 acres of land at lot 2-A of the Owa Subdivision in Wailuku was given to the Maui’s Sons and Daughters of the 442 from Alexander & Baldwin. (This deed was later transferred to the Nisei Veterans Memorial Center, with the approval of A&B.)
June 29, 1991 – Approximately 1,000 people attend the Nisei Veterans Memorial Center Kickoff Banquest at the Maui Inter-Continental Resort in Wailea with actor-comedian Pat Morita as guest master of ceremonies. A lead gift of $100,000 from Arisumi Brothers is presented and recognition is given to A&B for their land donation.
October, 1991 – Volume 1, Issue No. 1, of Okage Sama de (because of you I am), the NVMC newsletter, is published.
December 23, 1991 – The Nisei Veterans Memorial center is incorporated in the state of Hawaii.
September, 1992 – The Historical Committee of Maui’s Sons and Daughters of the 442nd embarks on an oral history project of World War II veterans. Eric Saul, former curator of the Presidio Army Museum in California, presented a workshop on how to establish an oral history program.
December 22, 1992 – The Maui Planning Commission approves a request for zoning change from R-3 residential to public-quasi public.
December 23, 1992 –tax-exempt status for the Nisei Veterans Memorial Center is approved by the Internal Revenue service.
May 27, 1993 – The Maui County Council approves the zoning change.
October 12, 1993 - The special management area permit is approved by the Maui Planning Commission.
(extended on October 24, 1995)
The Sons and Daughters organization changes its name to Maui’s Sons and Daughters of the Nisei Veterans, to “perpetuate the legacy created in World War II by the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, the 100th Battalion, and the Military Intelligence Service.” This change reflects the group’s effort to honor all the Niseis who served and sacrificed during World War II.
June, 1995 – Led by Representative Joseph Souki and Maui’s legislative team, $1 million is placed in the 1995 state budget.
March 12, 1996 – Plans for a three-phase development by architect, Earl Kono, are announced including a playfield, museum, and non- profit offices and conference room.
June, 1997 – The Maui County Council appropriates $500,000 to the center.
June 26, 1997 – The Maui/Lana‘i burial Council, Department of Land and natural Resources, state Historic Preservation Division, approves the Burial Treatment Plan.
February 26, 1997 - Ground breaking ceremony for the Nisei Veterans Memorial Center.
Concrete retaining walls on the back boundary and keystone wall on the front boundary are built.
March, 2002 – Construction bids come in at $1.23 million over the estimated cost requiring development of the intergenerational care center (phase I) and archival center (Phase II), far exceeding construction estimates. Plans put on hold.
March 11, 2003 – NVMC announce plans to build an intergenerational Center which will include an adult care facility and a preschool open to all in the community.
May 27, 2003 – Maui Planning Commission endorses application for the change in use, form a museum/community center to an intergenerational center.
Center announces sufficient funding for preschool and sitework. County issues building permits, construction begins.
July 30, 2005 –“ Pour the Slab” celebration is held as concrete foundation is poured for the Adult Care building. Governor Linda Lingle, Representative Joseph Souki, Senator Shan Tsutsui, Councilman Dane Kane and Mayor Alan Arakawa are in attendance with governor Lingle presenting a ceremonial check for $1.5 million in state funds. It is announce that the Maui Adult Day Care Centers (MADCC) will be managing the program.
March 6, 2006 – NVMC announce that Chalene (Tanaka) Doi will be the director of Kansha Preschool.
July 22, 2006 – Grand Opening of the first phase of our Center, the Adult Day Care and Preschool building.
October, 2006 – County releases $300,000 grant for the Education Center.
February 26, 2007 – Building Permit for the education building is submitted to the County.
March, 2007 – Governor Lingle releases $750,00 grant for the Education Center.
Center receives $300,000 from County of Maui for Education Building.
Center receives $750,000 from State of Hawaii for Education Building.
Center raises additional $350,000 from individuals, corporations, foundations. Center receives building permit. Groundbreaking on June 29th on our Education Building.
July, 2009 – Building is delayed due to unresolved status of the sand removal for the Education building. The Burial Council does not want the sand to leave the premises.
April, 2010 – after exploring numerous alternatives for resolving the sand issue, A&B agrees to sell the 4.043 acre neighboring parcel to the NVMC, thus allowing the sand to be deposit there.
April 11, 2010 – the Donor Wall is unveiled along with a mural featuring the 100th/442nd and Maui’s two Medal of Honor recipients, Kaoru Moto and Barney Hajiro.
February, 2011 – final SMA approval is received, construction of the Education Center Proceeds.
"ENCLOSED is our deed of March 12, 1987, conveying to your organization Lot 2-A of Owa Subdivision."
With this simple, one-sentence letter, Alexander and Baldwin, Inc. deeded 2.02 acres of land to our cause of building a lasting tribute to the Nisei veterans of World War II.