South Dakota State News



CONTACT: Jeff Mammenga, media coordinator, 605-773-6000, [email protected]

April 7 History Talk presents the story of the Spearfish Man, Kenny Higashi and Japanese Americans during World War II

PIERRE, SD—The South Dakota State Historical Society welcomes author Lauren R. Harris to its April History Conference on Thursday, April 7, from 7-8 p.m. CDT (6-7 p.m. MDT).

The presentation, “Loyalty and Freedom: The All-Japanese American Soldiers of World War II,” examines the unwavering courage of the 100th/442nd Regimental Combat Team and unit men who helped achieve freedom, not just for those from European countries. where they fought, but also for their families, many of whom lived behind barbed wire in incarceration camps in the United States.

Harris became interested in the stories of these men while interviewing Kenneth (Kenny) Higashi for the Rapid City Journal, and Kenny became the subject of her upcoming children’s picture book “A Place for Harvest: The Story of Kenny Higashi”. , illustrated by award-winning artist Felicia Hoshino. Higashi was a big-hearted, small-town South Dakota boy who never imagined his life would take him from his family’s vegetable farm in the Black Hills to war in Europe.

The all-Japanese 100th/442nd U.S. Regimental Combat Team was one of the most successful U.S. Army units of World War II. Nicknamed the “Purple Heart Battalion” and with the motto “Go For Broke”, the 100th/442nd served in some of the toughest battles of World War II and earned the respect of officers and fellow soldiers. Harris has personally interviewed Kenny on several occasions, as well as other veterans, and she has researched the 100th/442nd extensively, in conjunction with the Go For Broke National Education Center. His writings highlight the inspiring stories of bravery of veterans to preserve the American spirit of unity and freedom.

The April History Conference is being held in conjunction with the 2022 South Dakota State Historical Society History Conference and Governors Awards for History, April 22-23, at the Pierre Ramkota Hotel and Convention Center. You can find more information and registration for the conference at Educators may attend this presentation and the conference for continuing education hour credits. Individuals can attend Harris’ virtual presentation via Zoom. Free registration for History Talks is available at

History Talks is a monthly lecture series sponsored by the South Dakota Historical Society Foundation. To support future events and activities of the State Historical Society, visit to donate today. For more information about joining the society, call 605-773-6000. “A Place for Harvest: The Story of Kenny Higashi” can be purchased at heritage stores, with locations at the Cultural Heritage Center and the State Capitol, and online at


About the South Dakota State Historical Society

The South Dakota State Historical Society is a division of the Department of Education. The State Historical Society, affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution since 2013, is headquartered at the South Dakota Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre. The center houses the society’s world-class museum, archives, and offices for historic preservation, publishing, and administration/development. Call 605-773-3458 or visit for more information. The society also has an archeology office in Rapid City; call 605-394-1936 for more information.


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