Raymond Uno

Judge Raymond Uno receives a Japanese imperial decoration, "The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette," during a ceremony Dec. 6, 2014, in Salt Lake City.

We should honor the heroes among us for their courage, their determination and grace.

So let us now honor Raymond Uno.

Uno did not simply prevail over unjust imprisonment during World War II, fueled by the blind anger and terror of his own government — he showed the unlimited potential of the human spirit.

By now, Uno’s story is well known to Utahns. He was born in Ogden in 1930, the son of Clarence Ihachiro Uno, who fought for the United States in World War I. By virtue of his service, he became a naturalized U.S. citizen.

Clarence moved his family to California in 1938, and when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, the government confiscated their property and shipped them to the Heart Mountain Relocation Center in Wyoming.

Clarence Uno died there in 1943.

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“He was a loyal American citizen who died a prisoner of war to his own country,” Uno told Mitch Shaw, a reporter for the Standard-Examiner.

Released from Heart Mountain in 1945, Uno enlisted in the Army, serving as an interpreter and special agent in Japan.

He went on to earn an associate’s degree from Weber Junior College in Ogden, followed by a bachelor’s degree, a law degree, a teaching certificate and a master’s in social work from the University of Utah.

Uno served as an assistant state attorney general from 1965 to 1969, going on to spend 12 years as a judge in the Utah courts. He retired in 2002 after five years as senior judge for the 3rd District Court.

And at every turn, he lifted up those around him, advocating for minorities, civil rights and better government.

Utah Sen. Jani Iwamoto, a Holladay Democrat, organized a luncheon Saturday, Sept. 24, in Salt Lake City to honor Uno. Money raised at the event will be used to start a social-justice lecture series in Uno's name at the U, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.

"You deserve admiration, respect and every single award you receive because you are a true leader and trailblazer — opening the doors for others because of what you have done — but also because you have mentored, and continue to mentor, others and have inspired us to make our own mark on the world," Iwamoto told Uno.

He deserves admiration for all that, certainly. But he also deserves our respect for showing us what we can achieve when we seek justice not just for ourselves, but for all, regardless of their race, their sex or their financial means.

Let us now honor Raymond Uno, a true American hero. He continues to show us the possibilities of the human spirit.

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