Fantasyland Retail Stage Manager Megan Matsumoto is Japanese-American and the granddaughter of a World War II veteran, so she’s doubly honored this month to celebrate both Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Heritage Month and Military Appreciation Month.
“It’s important that [AANHPI] and military heritage are highlighted here at the resort because there are so many cast members that have a connection to either heritage or both,” said Megan. “It makes me so happy to be part of this Disney family.”
On Tuesday, May 24, the Community of Pacific Islanders, Asian and Allies (COMPASS) and SALUTE Business Employee Resource Groups (BERGs) hosted a panel and Flag Retreat ceremony at the Disneyland Resort honoring two World War II Japanese-American veterans, Don Miyada and Yoshio Nakamura, who served in the same regiment as Megan’s grandfather, Paul Kazuo Matsumoto.
At the event, the two men shared stories about their service and what it meant to be Japanese-American veterans. “[I] had a lot to prove that [Japanese-Americans] were Americans,” Mr. Nakamura said about why he enlisted. After the flag retreat, the men met with cast members and were presented with commemorative plaques in honor of their service.
@disneyparks We recently honored Paul and his #WWII regiment with a special #FlagRetreat ceremony :us: #Disney #DisneyParks #Disneyland #Veteran #APIFamily #DisneyCastLife ♬ original sound – Disney Parks
Megan said her grandfather, who passed away in 2013, also was proud to have served in the 442nd Infantry of the U.S. Army, a regiment almost entirely composed of Japanese-American soldiers. “He always talked about how it was one of the best things he ever did because it helped Japanese-Americans [gain acceptance] as Americans,” she said.
Megan’s grandfather was awarded the Purple Heart for injuries suffered during his service. “My grandpa is my greatest hero,” she said. “He was proud of being both Japanese and American, and that passed on to me. It shaped my identity and made me want to ensure his service is not forgotten and his legacy continues.”
AANHPI Heritage Month is a multi-layered celebration for Megan and her family, too, since her heritage is comprised of traditions from Japanese, American and Hawaiian cultures. Her favorite Japanese tradition is making mochi for the New Year with her family, something she learned from her grandmother. “My Japanese heritage makes me feel like I am more than just one story.”