Kiyo Sato Named Woman of the Year at Annual Celebration
“Kiyo has shown tremendous courage and perseverance through her entire life and I am truly honored to see her recognized at the State Capitol for all of her extraordinary achievements,” said Assemblyman Ken Cooley. --Photo courtesy Ken Cooley
Assemblyman Ken Cooley and the California Legislature Recognize Sato
Assemblyman Ken Cooley (D-Rancho Cordova) joined the California Legislative Women’s Caucus to recognize women from across the state in celebration of Women’s History Month. This year, Assemblyman Cooley honored Kiyo Sato of Sacramento.
“Like so many Japanese-Americans that were forced to leave their homes in a time of national panic and bigotry, Kiyo did not let it stop her from living an exceptionally full life. She joined the Air Force, became a nurse, raised her family and is now a highly-regarded author,” said Assemblyman Cooley. “Kiyo has shown tremendous courage and perseverance through her entire life and I am truly honored to see her recognized at the State Capitol for all of her extraordinary achievements.”
Kiyo Sato, the eldest child of a Japanese-American immigrant family, grew up before World War II with her eight brothers and sisters in Sacramento, California. Her parents established a thriving family farm on a few acres in the Mather Field area of Rancho Cordova. Home life in the Sato family was a pleasant mix of Japanese and American customs, as Kiyo describes at length in her memoir Dandelion through the Crack and in her more recent book Kiyo’s Story – A Japanese-American Family’s Quest for the American Dream. Kiyo was 19 years old and had just started college in Sacramento when President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 in February, 1942, which forcibly relocated Japanese-Americans from their homes. Kiyo and her family were forced to leave their farm with little more than the clothes on their backs and relocate to an internment camp at the Poston Indian Reservation in Arizona.
At the end of the war, Kiyo and her family were released from the prison camp and briefly worked in Colorado as seasonal laborers before they finally returned to their farm in Sacramento to rebuild their home and their lives. Kiyo’s parents were able to keep their farm, but many Japanese-Americans were not so fortunate and had to start completely from scratch.
Kiyo later joined the United States Air Force, completed college with a Master’s in Nursing and achieved the rank of Captain for the USAF Nurse Corps. She eventually returned home from her service, married, and started her own family in Sacramento. Her four children grew up helping with their grandparents’ farm – a vital part of every Sato family member’s experience.
Kiyo Sato is a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Nisei Post 8985, in Sacramento. As a renowned published author, Kiyo was the winner of the 2008 William Saroyan Prize for nonfiction, and winner of the Northern California Publishers and Authors Gold Award for Best First Books, the Sacramento County Historical Society Publications Award, and the NCPA Mark Twain Award in 2012. Kiyo’s favorite saying is “Kodomo no tame ni” meaning “for the sake of the children.”