HAPPY 2023 everyone…we made it! As previously reported last year (my August 2022 Biggers’ Birthday post), in 1925 the Honolulu Tourism Bureau presented Author Earl Derr Biggers with an honorary Key to The City of Honolulu. This was in appreciation for the overwhelming good will and publicity his first Charlie Chan novel, The House Without a Key, brought to the city and the islands. The search for that key is still ongoing by a dedicated group of historians, academics, and pseudoscientist, intent on discovering its whereabouts for posterity (Ah…that would be me.)
But coincidentally, some 26 year later another “Earl” received a Key to The City of Honolulu, Earl Finch of Hattiesburg, Mississippi! Although never to serve in the military, Mr. Finch became an honorary member of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team: The segregated unit of Nisei Soldiers or “second generation” of Japanese-Americans, who volunteered to serve and thereby prove their loyalty to the United States during WWII. When these Nisei Soldiers signed on to protect America they carried an additional burden: They had volunteered directly from U.S. internment camps, leaving their parents and siblings still unjustly confined behind barbed wire.
Once suspected a Japanese spy and labelled a “Jap lover” by his Hattiesburg neighbors, he helped secure a U.S.O. in Hattiesburg and was known as Mr. Aloha to thousands of Japanese soldiers and their families. Though rejected for military service because of a heart ailment, he was in the nation’s capitol on July 15, 1946, when the 100th/442nd received the Presidential Unit Citation from President Harry S. Truman.
Want to start the New Year off with new hope and reboot your belief in the worth of our lot? Here is Mr. Finch’s most interesting story, “Earl Finch: The One Man U.S.O.”
“You can not applaud with one hand”Keeper of The Keys, 1932, Chapter 18