Iva Toguri was a Japanese-American, raised in California with parents who instilled in their child a sense of patriotism. They even refused to speak Japanese in the house so as to help her assimilate. And when she grew old enough she graduated from UCLA and considered a career in medicine. By all accounts Iva was quickly working her way toward living the American dream.
In July 1941, Toguri went to visit her ailing Aunt in Japan. Five months later, Pearl Harbor was attacked, drawing America into the war and stranding Toguri in Japan for seven long years.
Her life during these years in Japan was incredibly trying: she was constantly subjected to interrogation by Japanese military officials, who would often wake her at all hours, prod her to jog in-between their bicycles on the way to their interrogation quarters, and attempt to force her to renounce her U.S. citizenship. But she refused. She was an American through and through.
During the war years, the Japanese Imperial Army had been working to propagandize American troops through the use of radio. Iva Toguri, seeking to assist various Allied prisoners of war who were being used by the Japanese to produce demoralizing radio shows, ended up striking up a relationship with the POW crew who worked on a show called the “Zero Hour.” This crew, led by Australian Major Charles Cousins, American Captain Ted Ince and Filipino Lieutenant Norman Reyes, decided to have Toguri host the show. They hoped to fool the Japanese into believing she was reciting propaganda when, in reality, she was sabotaging it and raising the morale of Allied troops. Iva considered the broadcasts, along with her frequent deliveries of supplies and food to the POWs as the most effective means of contributing to the war effort against the Japanese, and serving her country.
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