• Hikers Find Skeleton That Goes Way Back – and Why That Should Matter to Us

    Surge Summary: The remains of a Japanese-American man interned during World War II and who went missing toward that conflict’s end have been lately discovered in the mountains of California. This matters because it remains true in Western culture that every life has some value.

    This past fall, near California’s second-highest peak, hikers came across a skeleton. Newser provides the update that it was identified last Friday

    as a Japanese American artist who had left the Manzanar internment camp to paint in the mountains in the waning days of World War II, the AP reports. The Inyo County sheriff used DNA to identify the remains of Giichi Matsumura, who succumbed to the elements during a freak summer snowstorm while on a hiking trip with other members of the camp.

    It seems Matsumura went missing on August 2, 1945: he had stopped to paint a watercolor, while other members of his party continued ahead to go fishing. It took a month to find his body and, since the US dropped the first atomic bomb to end the Second World War in the days immediately after his disappearance, his loss was overshadowed.

    Matsumura was one of over 1,800 detainees who died in the 10 prison camps in the West, though it’s an unusual death. While his burial in the mountains was well known among members of the camp and his family, the story faded over time and the location of the grave site in a remote boulder-strewn area 12,000 feet above sea level was lost to time. Lori Matsumura, the granddaughter who provided the DNA sample, was surprised when Sgt. Nate Derr of the Inyo County sheriff’s office contacted her to say they believed her grandfather’s remains had been discovered. After all, he had been found nearly 75 years ago and buried. “It was a bit of a rediscovery,” she says. “We knew where he was approximately because we knew the story of what happened. So we knew he was there.”

    So, why is this a story? It’s just one man, after all, and something that occurred over seven decades ago.

    First of all, what else happened seven decades ago? One of the truly disgraceful spells of American history: the wartime internment of Japanese Americans – and the vanishing and death of Giichi Matsumura was a grim and saddening addendum to that low point.

    Moreover, Western society, despite its present day abortion and euthanasia enthusiasms, still apparently cherishes life on some levels. Every life really does matter – unborn, elderly, infirm; or interned. Giichi Matsumura was a human being, with aspirations, plans, talents, no doubt loved by family members. He died tragically. That matters, even seventy-five years removed.

    Each person is a creation of God, made in His image. Each one counts.

    Image: Adapted from: Unknown – 貴族院事務局『貴族院要覧(丙) 昭和12年12月増訂』、1937年。National Diet Library Digital Collections: Persistent ID 1653722, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=47095386


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