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1. Sgt. Frank Murakawa, The Citizen

2. Gen. Eric Shinseki

3. Capt. James Yee

4. Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba

5. 1st Lt. Ehren Watada

In recent years, the Asian American community has had a disproportionate number of high-profile soldiers of conscience.

  1. June 2003: Army Chief of Staff Gen. Eric Shinseki retired after contradicting the Secretary of Defense, stating a far higher estimate for troops needed to secure Iraq than Secretary Donald Rumsfeld had been asserting

  2. September 2003: Army chaplain Capt. James Yee was charged with sedition, among other offenses, in the course of ministering to detainees at Guantanamo

  3. January 2006: Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba was asked to retire after authoring an extremely critical report on prisoner abuse at the Abu Ghraib facility in Iraq

  4. June 2006: Army 1st Lt. Ehren Watada was court-martialed after refusing to participate in the “illegal war” in Iraq

Meanwhile, in 2009, two soldiers stood up to openly protest the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy barring gays and lesbians from serving in the armed forces—and both happened to be Asian American: 2nd Lt. Sandy Tsao and Lt. Dan Choi.

The common inspiration cited by many of these soldiers: A commitment to justice shaped by the experiences of Asian Americans during World War II—notably the heroism of those who stood up for their ideals, both in fighting and in refusing to fight.

Discussion Questions

  1. 1.From the details present in the story, what can you infer about Murakawa’s  character? Cite examples from the text. 

  2. 2.Why do you think the current President is determined to free The Citizen considering the crime he committed against the former president?

  3. 3.Compare Murakawa’s attempt to “arrest [the president] for war crimes” to the actions of one of the soldiers noted above: General Eric Shinseki, Major General Anthony Taguba, Captain James Yee, First Lieutenant Ehren Watada.

  4. 4.Why do you think so many high-profile “soldiers of conscience” are Asian American? 

The Citizen, pg. 56 

Story by: Greg Pak; Art by: Bernard Chang

This story follows Sgt. Frank Murakawa, an enlistee in the Arizona National Guard who, due to exposure to unknown chemicals during a freak training accident, has been endowed with amazing abilities—turning him into the superpowered patriot known as The Citizen. Believing himself to be employed by "the country, not the government," Murakawa finds himself branded a traitor and summarily incarcerated after attempting to arrest the former President of the United States for war crimes, However, just hours into his administration, the new Commander-in-Chief releases him, telling him he needs help unwinding an even greater conspiracy.

The character of Frank Murakawa represents an interesting confluence in American history: The Asian American soldier of conscience. The phrase "soldier of conscience" refers to military men who have chosen to speak out about misconduct or to refuse orders they consider breaches of moral or ethical code. Those who make such a decision to disobey or break discipline face harsh consequences, including isolation and harassment from fellow soldiers and even court-martial, despite the fact that the Nuremberg principles adopted after World War II require soldiers to refuse orders they believe to be illegal.