Museum Textile Services recently had occasion to conserve three flags from the collection of the Brown Family. Included among these was a Japanese Peace flag, or hinomaru yosegaki, meaning “To write sideways around the red sun.” This name describes the appearance of the flag, with written messages radiating from the center. The Good Luck Flag was a traditional gift to members of the Japanese military during the time of the Empire of Japan. Many were collected as souvenirs by members of the American, British, and Australian military while fighting the ardent Japanese forces during World War Two.
Although these flags have been found to date as early as the first Sino-Japanese War of 1894-1895, they are most commonly associated with the second Sino-Japanese War of 1937-1945. They are the national flag of Japan, and were produced from varying materials to be carried with the man-off-to-war in his personal effects. The Brown's flag was made of cotton, and a translation of the writing tells us it was given to Yoshio Kojima from his family, friends, co-workers, and employer.
Written throughout are hopeful messages, such as “Give seven lives for Your Country,” “Please work with good health,” and “Take care.” The flag served as a type of talisman for the recipient--every time the flag was unfolded and the soldier saw the exhortations and signatures, it was thought to galvanize the soldier to do his duty and see him through the challenging times of war.
Richard K. Brown passed this flag down to his sons. Richard was born on May 18, 1917, in Ohio. He graduated from University High School in Ann Arbor in 1935 and graduated in 1940 from the University of Michigan with a Bachelors degree in Electrical Engineering. In 1941, Richard joined the Army but was able to attend courses at Harvard's Underwater Sound Lab as research associate, testing anti-submarine sonar for the Navy and Army Air Corps. He later went on to attend MIT and a secret course at the Bell Lab School. With all this education under his belt, 1st Lieutenant Richard K. Brown entered active service on March 31, 1943.