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Shigehusa Kanda

From Hawaii in the World War by Ralph Kuykendall

Shigehusa Kanda of Maui earned the distinction of having been the only Japanese Red Cross worker to reach France from the United States, and in addition was the only foreigner connected as a bona fide worker with the American Red Cross units there. A native-born Japanese, and regarded as one of the able leaders of his race in the islands, Mr. Kanda, with his wife, was conducting the Wailuku Girls’ Home when the United States entered the war; formerly he had been a Christian minister at Kohala, Hawaii. His decision to become a Red Cross worker in France was made because he felt it a duty to make some repayment to America for the advantages he had enjoyed under her flag for fourteen years; and also because he wished to show his four children the love he bore for the country of which they were citizens.

When Mr. Kanda’s application for Red Cross service in France was refused at headquarters in Honolulu, he provided for his family and his school, conducted his own funeral, as is the custom of Japanese about to undergo a danger, and with the small sum remaining, left on May 7, 1918, for the mainland. In Washington his application was rejected by the state department; and after the British consul in New York had declined six times to allow him to go to England, the necessary vise was finally granted.

Mr. Kanda left New York on July 5. In London the French consul refused seven times to allow him to go to France, except as a member of the Red Cross; and it was then that Major F. H. Rockwell brought the matter to the attention of Commissioner Gibson and after various inquiries made of Washington, he was finally accepted as a Red Cross worker. He assisted at the Gare du Nord canteen in Paris, working for American soldiers and according to the Red Cross Bulletin of February 9, 1919, “deriving real pleasure not only from opening cans of jam but from scrubbing floors, washing dishes, doing anything and everything he can.” “He is the most earnest, conscientious and faithful worker I have ever seen,” said the director of the canteen. Mr. Kanda continued in the canteen service from July, 1918, to July, 1919; and then returned to Hawaii, after a visit to friends in Japan. He wore a service ribbon with the two stars denoting a year’s service overseas.

See an article about Mr. Kanda in the Red Cross Magazine


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