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Every year on Memorial Day in May (or sometime around Memorial Day), my family goes ohaka mairi - we go on our rounds of the Southern California cemeteries where our relatives are buried. We go to say 'hi' and to remember those who came before us. This year, we went a week late.

Most of my mother's side of our family is buried in Evergreen Cemetery in the Boyle Heights area of Los Angeles. Evergreen was founded on August 23, 1877, and is the oldest existing cemetery in the city of Los Angeles.

Near where my great-grandparents are buried, I noticed this tombstone. It's quite a bit taller than most of the rest of the stones and looked fairly old. The photo shows a small airplane flyer over the planet showing the Americas. The name reads "Masashi Goto" and underneath is written "Aviator". here is some kanji underneath (probably his name?), and then the years 1896 - 1929.

I was curious about this grave marker, so I went online and did a search. I found this really great article about him on the Utah History to Go website that was really interesting. It was originally published on 10/31/1993 in The Salt Lake Tribune:
"Death In The Uintas: Japanese Flier's Dream Shattered In Mountains" by Hal Schindler.

According to the the article, Masashi Goto was an Issei living in Los Angeles. He and his friend Takeo Watanabe saved money for years to design and build a small biplane in Watanabe's garage. During this time, Goto worked as a gardener trimming lawns for extra money. Their dream was to fly the plane around the world from Los Angeles to Japan (the plan was to fly it over land, and then travel by boat over water).

In 1929, Goto started his planned historic flight. He arrived in Salt Lake City, Utah on July 4, 1929 where members of the local Japanese American community gathered at the airport to greet him. But, after leaving Salt Lake City that day, he crashed in the Uinta Mountains of Utah, ending his dream and his life. A small granite monument was erected by the Japanese Association of Utah on the spot where his plane crashed. However, during WWII, the monument was toppled into a creek bed. The stone marker was later moved to a new location.

This photograph was taken at Evergreen Cemetery in Los Angeles on June 4, 2007.

vkm — Atualizado em Mar 30 2011 7:59 p.m.

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