Wednesday, July 29, 2015

50 Years Ago This Week: America Enters The Vietnam War

It was 50 years ago this week in 1965 that then Resident Lyndon Baines Johnson announced on American Television that he would be sending the Air Mobile Division to Vietnam thus embarking our nation to a war few people understood yet wanted to fight that tore our nation apart. 

Here is an excerpt from that famous speech:

"We intend to convince the Communists that we cannot be defeated by force of arms or by superior power. They are not easily convinced. In recent months they have greatly increased their fighting forces and their attacks and the number of incidents. I have asked the Commanding General, General Westmoreland, what more he needs to meet this mounting aggression. He has told me. We will meet his needs.

I have today ordered to Viet-Nam the Air Mobile Division and certain other forces which will raise our fighting strength from 75,000 to 125,000 men almost immediately. Additional forces will be needed later, and they will be sent as requested."

Among the many men of the 1st Air Cavalry Air Mobile Division that would be sent halfway around the world to Vietnam was my late father Luis E. Rosas-Luca seen here from his bunk aboard the troop ship that took him to the war zone.

一日の画像 - Picture of the Day

Seen here is the Reverend Kako assisting Imamura Sensei in this Goma Fire Ceremony for July 2015 at the Koyasan Betsuin in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Films for Obon 2015

It's been three years since we've had any films to recommend for Obon. While there have been some films from Japan dealing with death, nothing has spoken to us like this year's picks. Now why you might ask? In part for two reasons. Our first film pick was inspired by this year's Obon Service by Imamura Sensei. In it he spoke of the origins of the Obon ceremony in where a direct disciple of Shakyamuni Buddha had tried to feed the hungry ghost of his mother but found that the food he had laid out burned her. Frustrated, he sought the consul of the Buddha who explained that because she could not appreciate the food in front of her she remained a hungry ghost. Now how many times have you had a meal that for some reason you were so focused on something else that upset you that you could not enjoy such a meal? In that very moment you become the hungry ghost! For this reason, we have selected our first ever non-Japanese pick the 1987 Danish film Babette's Feast.
Much like Imamura Sensei's sermon, this film deals with regret, foolishness, and appreciation. In the plot, a French woman escapes to a small fishing village in 19th Century Jutland Denmark whose entire community centered around a pastor who had recently passed away. No one in this tightly held community including the two surviving daughters of the pastor seems to trust her. What they do not know is that she was a world renown Chef who had just won the French lottery. In an effort to show respect and break the ice with her neighbors, she spends her entire fortune preparing a feast to commemorate the anniversary of the pastors passing. Sounds like people would appreciate that right? Wrong!
Gripped by fear and distrust, the two sisters convince themselves that this foreigner is a devil in disguise who seeks to corrupt them away from God. They devise a plan to attend the meal in their father's honor but deprive themselves of enjoying it. What they did not expect was that Denmark's most famous General who Babbette once had a chance encounter with comes to the dinner and is blown away by the incredible 12 course cuisine. He had not eaten so well in many years and tried his best to compliment the exquisite cooking but is quickly shot down by people who ignore his remarks and change the subject as they continue to eat without a word or ounce of joy. These foolish old Danes fail Babbette in their ignorance in not appreciating what they had been given and thus become as Imamura Sensei calls a hungry ghost. As the Japanese would say: BAKA! 

Our Second film for Obon is a replay from an earlier year. We choose a terrifying short story from within Akira Kurosawa Dreams entitled "The Tunnel." 
As many of you may have read about our connection to the Vietnam War and by proxy WWII. This segment deals with regret or as what my father suffered from a sense of survivors guilt. Here within this Kurosawa masterpiece is the story of one such Japanese soldier who at the end of the defeat in WWII returns home. But just short of getting there he must pass through a long dark tunnel where he hears the footsteps of ghosts marching. To his terror, he discovers they are his dead troops who followed him into annihilation.
This short story could be about any war where one who has regrets must come to terms with what they have done. Obon is a time of reflection and this piece gives plenty for those who in recent times have been calling for war never caring once of the consequences for those who must fight it. Please reflect on this.

Obon 2015

July marks the return of Obon in Little Tokyo. All the Buddhist Temples throughout the cultural district  perform the Obon Ceremonies this time of year in which some Temples include Obon Carnivals and Bon Odori dance. This year at the Koyasan Betsuin the ceremony was officiated by the Imamura Sensei, Kako Sensei, Hiyashi Sensei, visiting Kikura Kenshusei, and retired Emeritus Miyata Sensei. 

There were 23 Hotsubon Families were represented including the families of two long Temple members including Jack Wada. Having gone through this last year with the death of my uncle, father, two aunts, and two miscarried children, my perspective on Obon has only deepened. This year my entire direct family was included in my prayers and offerings of food and drink. For a moment I could feel them all around me.I would like to think they understood what this was about and appreciated my efforts. It was sad that despite 23 Hotsubon families represented, 13 of those families were notably absent. I am sure they had their reasons but it was a high number. We wish them all peace.
 Seen here is the rice and water offerings.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Memory Day 2015

This year as in many years passed, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund honored 165 former servicemen who died from service related illnesses connected to the Vietnam War in Washington n D.C. at the Vietnam Memorial. Better known to many as “The Wall,” the Vietnam memorial served as a backdrop for a ceremony that had over 1400people in attendance among them yours truly the son of former 146th TAW Alumni Luis E. Rosas who had made the journey to honor his father and induct him into the VVMF Virtual Honor Roll which contains the names and pictures of some 2000 Vietnam Veterans who largely died from complications related to their exposure to Agent Orange during their tours of Vietnam. 

Luis’s surviving son American Mishima author Louis Edward Rosas Jr. was accompanied by former U.S. Army Sergeant Jim Beaver who served with Luis Rosas at Fort Benning and at An Khe Vietnam as members of the 1st Air Cavalry Division, 15th Transportation Corps Battalion, Delta Company to pay tribute to his service during 1965-1966 as a member of the Avionics Shop which paved the way for a lifetime career in both civilian and military aviation maintenance. This was a deep emotional journey which we plan to write about in a future book titled "A SON'S JOURNEY TO THE WALL."

The Memory Day Service is an annual event. If you have a family member who has passed away from a service related illness from the Vietnam War, you may apply to have them inducted into the Virtual Honor Roll whose names and photos will one day go on display at a future planned VVMF museum set to be constructed adjacent to the Vietnam Memorial Wall. Selected non-perishable items left at The Wall will one day go on display there. 

Since the Wall's construction, people have left everything from teddy bears to dog tags at the base of the Wall. For Louis Rosas Jr. he left the dog tags of his father’s friend he had kept and a newly released paperback copy of his father’s book MY FATHER’S WAR IN VIETNAM AND THE LONG SHADOW OF THE HON CONG MOUNTAIN. He did this so that in his own words as he refers’ to his father gracing the cover:”We did this so long after I am gone, my father’s smile will still be here to greet visitors and in doing do live on.”

To Read about Luis E. Rosas life and service in Vietnam please visit:

To find out more about the VVMF Memory Day please visit: