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Dr. Uncle Johnny Day · 19 January 2013


Not everybody deserves a day in his Honor, but my uncle, Dr. Johnny Matsushima does.


My cousin, Naomi, said on Facebook that the governor of Colorado had declared January 14, 2013 to be Dr. John Matsushima Day. I could not find such a declaration on the internet, but I did find out a little more about our uncle.


I knew that Uncle Johnny had received the Emperor’s Award from the Emperor of Japan in 2009. I knew he has traveled the globe as one of the foremost beef cattle experts in the world. And helping the beef industry in Japan was one of the reasons he got the Emperor’s Award. However, I did not know that he was the first American of Japanese descent to have received it.


I kept searching for the governor’s proclamation, and kept finding out more about our uncle.


I found another honor in the congressional record. A Mr. Gardner was recognized on the Colorado House of Representatives floor to give honor to Uncle Johnny. Mr. Gardner talked about some of Uncle Johnny’s accomplishments, including the Emperor’s Award and Colorado State University’s Best Teacher Award, to name just a few. He concluded his single allotted minute with:


“He is a true pioneer who has committed his life’s work to Colorado and to the Western United States. These stories highlight an amazing man, and I am proud to honor Dr. Matsushima on the House floor.”


I knew Uncle Johnny was important to Colorado State University and the beef industry, but I did not know he was so important to the state of Colorado as well. As I read more on the internet, I found out more about our humble uncle.


The big award that Uncle Johnny has recently received was the 2013 Citizen of the West Award given by the National Western Stock Show. This prestigious award is given to individuals “who embody the spirit and determination of the western pioneer, and who are committed to perpetuating the West’s agricultural heritage and ideals.” The award is a big deal in Colorado and other agricultural western states. So much so that the governor of Colorado was to be at the banquet where Uncle Johnny received his award. This may have been why my cousin thought Colorado was having a day to honor Uncle Johnny.


Uncle Johnny would probably blush at the thought of having his own day. After all, he is quiet and unassuming. But he casts a huge image on the world of animal science.


Our large extended family reveres Uncle Johnny, not necessarily for his worldly accomplishments, but for who he is. Still, I must admit that it is pretty cool having a famous uncle, even if his fame is mostly in a particular segment of the population. It is even cooler that the governor of Colorado agreed with our relatives and did more than just attend the banquet where our uncle was honored for his accomplishments. It was amazing to find out that despite the lack of evidence on the internet, my cousin was right. The governor of Colorado had indeed officially proclaimed January 14, 2013 to be Dr. John Matsushima Day. (I hope he does not mind if I just call it Dr. Uncle Johnny Day.)


© 2013 Michael T. Miyoshi

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