Over Half a Century in the Shadow of a Legend

“Orphan Ann” Home Page: VI. Over Half a Century in the Shadow of a Legend

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“Orphan Ann” Home Page

Sayonara, “Tokyo Rose” … Hello Again, “Orphan Ann”!

(4 Jul 1916 – 26 Sep 2006)


 

VI. Over Half a Century in the Shadow of a Legend

“You can either sit in a room and feel sorry for yourself or you can go outside and look ahead. I’ve tried to look ahead. … I try to forget the past and live with an eye to the future, trying to make a new life for myself while I forget the old one. … I believe in what I did. I have no regrets, and I don’t hate anyone for what happened.” —Iva Toguri, to Masayo Umezawa Duus, 20 May 1976

 

The principal defense attorney at Iva’s trial, Wayne Mortimer Collins, took her into his home for the two years it took to fight the deportation order. Iva joined her family in Chicago and did her best to disappear, to put the past behind her. A few years later, former AP Japanese Bureau Chief Rex B. Gunn became the first journalist to speak out on Iva’s behalf. Petitions for a Presidential pardon were filed with the Eisenhower administration in 1954, the Johnson administration in 1968, and the Nixon/Ford administration in 1976.

Bill Kurtis produced The “Tokyo Rose” Story documentary for CBS in 1969. When Wayne Mortimore Collins died in 1974, his son, Wayne Merrill Collins, who had sat across the breakfast table from Iva years before, took up the fight. Morley Safer produced a segment for 60 Minutes in 1976 that helped bring the pardon movement to public awareness. A Presidential pardon was finally forthcoming from President Gerald R. Ford, as one of his last acts in office, on 19 January 1977. The official Grant of Executive Clemency, co-signed by Attorney General Edward H. Levi, pardoned twelve people in all, nine men and three women, including Iva Ikuko Toguri d’Aquino.

Iva Toguri reluctantly divorced Felipe d’Aquino in 1980, since she would never leave the U.S. again for fear of not being allowed back in and he was forbidden entry as an undesirable alien, but she never stopped loving him. He died in Japan in November 1996, forty-three years after their forced separation and fifteen years after the divorce, but to Iva it was still like losing him all over again.

The “Tokyo Rose” story, as Iva’s story has been told to date, always concludes with the pardon, everyone congratulating themselves for seeing justice finally done. But the “Orphan Ann” story will not be told, and justice will not truly be served, until all the injustices have been acknowledged and some restitution made.

We cannot give back the eight and a half years Iva spent imprisoned in Japan and the U.S., but we can certainly restore the $10,000 she was fined. But of tantamount importance, we owe her recognition for her unwavering loyalty and the heroic acts that have been swept under the carpet by the furor over “Tokyo Rose.”

Fifty years ago, a young woman lost and alone in a foreign country at war with her own risked what little she had to help her countrymen, allied in cause if not actual nationality, continue the battle assumed lost when they were captured. She who was accused, tried and convicted of giving aid and comfort to the enemy provided aid and comfort to the Allies for which she has never been recognized.

Those of us who have had the good fortune to know Iva personally hope that the time has finally come for her to be vindicated. It was twenty-one years after her early release from prison in 1956 that she received a Presidential pardon for the crimes she never committed. Now, thirty years after that pardon, the time seems right to set the record straight once and for all.

After living in the shadow of a legend for over half a century, Iva Toguri deserves to hear the “Orphan Ann” story told as loudly and pervasively as the “Tokyo Rose” myth. I believe, as do many others, that she has earned a national apology, such as was given to her fellow Japanese Americans who were rounded up and interned in concentration camps here in the United States, and restitution of the money she was fined. At the very least, we owe Iva Toguri some official recognition on par with a special Congressional medal, such as the one awarded on 17 October 1978 to contralto Marian Anderson in reparation for her being refused the use of Constitution Hall by the Daughters of the American Revolution in 1939 on account of her color.

The irony of the “Orphan Ann” story is incredible: that a woman who by rights should have been the first recipient of President Truman’s new Medal of Freedom (established in 1945 to honor “American and foreign civilians who performed meritorious acts or services outside the U.S. that aided the U.S. in warfare after 7 December 1941”) was instead not only tried but convicted of treason; that it was her unwavering loyalty and refusal to give up her U.S. citizenship that made it possible to be prosecuted; and that she has never spoken against her country, though it repeatedly betrayed her. Since Iva, despite much urging from family and friends, steadfastly refused to speak for herself, and now can no longer do so, I feel compelled to speak for her.

It is my sincere hope that you will feel compelled to speak for her, too…!


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Last Update: 01 January 2017

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