The photographer Tom Graves

If you do a web-search on ‘Tom Graves’, you’ll find there are several of us, including a very pleasant and exuberant photographer in San Francisco, about the same age as me, with the website . A few years back we met we met up happily at the house of a mutual friend in San Francisco (Cindy Pavlinac – also a photographer, at – and her musician partner Marty Gregory), and have exchanged emails and ideas back and forth both before and since across various oceans.

He’s made a special theme of stories of now-ageing veterans – ‘Heroes All‘, as he puts it – and his latest project is an exhibition on ‘Nisei veterans’ at the National Steinbeck Center, Salinas, California – see . The Nisei were second-generation Americans of Japanese descent – ‘nisei’ being a Japanese word for ‘second’ who were (appallingly) interned at the start of the Second World War, and went on to volunteer to serve in the US Army later in the war in Europe, and later again in Korea.

“Rarely has a nation been so well-served by a people it has so ill-treated,” said President Bill Clinton in June 2000, when he presented long overdue Medals of Honor to Japanese American veterans, including two in the Heroes All! exhibit.

I really like Tom’s attitude to the subject: he’s often included ‘outsiders’, the ‘forgotten ones’ – for example, his ‘Heroes All’ include many women veterans of the 1940s and 1950s. He says the purpose of his project “is to share these incredible individuals and their stories. This is our last opportunity to honor these veterans and learn from them.”

The exhibition runs from 17 May to 27 July 2008: well worth taking a look if you’re in the region. Recommended.

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