Do a little digging, and connections are bound to surface. Today – September 5 – certainly supports that theory, and this time it involves former President Gerald R. Ford.

Iva Toguri D'Aquino behind bars in Japan.
Iva Toguri D’Aquino otherwise known as Tokyo Rose.

How so? On September 5, 1945, an American-born woman of Japanese ancestry named Iva Toguri D’Aquino was arrested in Japan and soon after returned to the United States to be tried for treason. D’Aquino was better known as “Tokyo Rose,” and became the most notorious among a group of people who broadcast propaganda over Japanese radio with the intention of demoralizing Allied troops fighting in the Pacific during World War II.

D’Aquino went to Japan early in 1941 to care for a sick relative. She soon became homesick and tried to return to the United States, but a paperwork glitch kept her in Japan. After the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, she found herself stuck in Japan and soon learned that her parents back in the U.S. had been sent to an internment camp in Arizona.

When she refused to renounce her U.S. citizenship, the Japanese classified her as an enemy alien and kept a close watch on her. She moved to Tokyo, where she met a capture Australian military officer being forced to broadcast propaganda over the radio, throughout the Pacific. He recruited her for the show, called the “Zero Hour,” promising her that nothing she would be required to say would harmful to the United States.

D’Aquino took the radio name of “Orphan Ann.” In reality, the G.I.s found her broadcasts were more entertaining than unsettling. In fact, they are the ones who dubbed her “Tokyo Rose.” At times, she informed her audience that she was spewing propaganda.

Among other things, she called the Americans, “my favorite family of boneheads, the fighting G.I.s in the blue Pacific.” She often mentioned events and news back home to make them homesick or convince them Japan was winning the war.

D’Aquino remained an enigma until after the war, when she agreed to speak to two American reporters about her role as “Tokyo Rose.”  The confession led to her eventual trial in San Francisco in 1949, when she was convicted on a single count of treason, sentenced to 10 years in prison, fined $10,000, and lost her American citizenship.

President Gerald Ford signing documents at his desk in Washington, 1975.
President Gerald Ford signing documents at his desk in Washington.

After serving six years in federal prison, D’Aquino was released and spent decades trying to clear her name. In the 1970s, two witnesses who had testified against her admitted they had perjured themselves under pressure from federal prosecutors.

In 1977, President Ford granted her a pardon and restored her U.S. citizenship. Her vindication came 32 years after her September 5, 1945, arrest in Japan.

Squeaky Fromme in the custody of Secret Service agents and police in Sacramento.
Squeaky Fromme in the custody of Secret Service agents and police in Sacramento.

Another September 5 – this one in 1975 – had a greater impact on President Ford. As he left the State Capitol during a visit to Sacramento, a woman stepped in front of him and fired a pistol in an assassination attempt. The gun’s chamber was empty, and Secret Service agents pounced on the assailant – Manson family cult member Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme – before she could attempt another shot.

Fromme spent the next 34 years in prison – except for a short-lived two-day escape – before being paroled in 2009.

And that offers yet another link to Ford: Fromme, who tried to kill him in 1975, and Tokyo Rose, whom he pardoned two years later, both served their time at Alderson Federal Prison Camp in West Virginia.

Indeed, a bit of digging usually turns up connections between people and various events, no matter how trivial. Happy Labor Day!

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