If the crosses were to be put back in place, Clearwater insisted, they should be erected in the company of Stars of David and Buddhist Wheels of Righteousness. As a compromise to the call to replace specifically Christian markers with a stone of the same rectangular shape for all, the Department of Defense would inscribe the appropriate symbol on the face of the gravestones already in place. Crosses would return to the Punchbowl, but they would not be set above the messages of other religions.
Congressman Crawford, who was generally opposed to replacing the crosses on fiscal grounds, jumped in with concern that if you started identifying Buddhists as well as Christians and Jews, where would it end?
“To carry that further,” he said, “chances are within the very near future we are going to have Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Mohammedists, Confucianists, Taoists and Hindus mixed into this very picture. This is before you, and you can’t escape it ... and you are not going to restrict this country to three religions.”
“That is correct, sir,” Clearwater said. “It just happens, Congressman Crawford, that, so far, outside of the Christian faith, the Buddhist religion is the only one that has brought up the question.”
“But certainly there will be further additions.”
“We anticipate that,” the colonel said.
In the end, the white crosses were not replaced at the Punchbowl. Instead, the existing graves and those to come each received an inset stone featuring a medallion etched with the appropriate religious symbol. With the new grave markers at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, the “Buddhist wheel,” as Hisaye Yamamoto had called it when she wished such a symbol had been available for her brother, became the third religious icon sanctioned by the Department of Defense.
Small matter though this may seem, its implications were less so. The symbols of other religious traditions followed, and now number close to 50. The deaths of Buddhist soldiers led the way for members of all faiths to join the symbols of their belief to the memory of their service.
* * *
When the Poston Relocation Center shut down for good a month after the war’s end, its former inhabitants were, for the most part, allowed to return to the lives they had left behind three years before.
Reverend Fujimura, however, was not permitted to return to California immediately upon his release. With the taint of his espionage charge still lingering, and still considered an “enemy alien,” he was told he would remain on probation for a year, during which time he would be legally prohibited from living on the Pacific coast. Making the best of an impossible situation, he moved to Chicago, where he resumed his ministry. He could come and go as he pleased from his home but had to receive prior approval from the FBI in order to leave the city.