Bill Bradley, captain of the U.S. gold medal-winning basketball team at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, was recently involved in another winning (and historically important) project with ties to Japan.
And it has nothing to do with basketball.
The weekly satellite radio program “American Voices with Senator Bill Bradley” on SiriusXM won a National Edward R. Murrow Award for one of its December 2018 shows. The award was announced in June.
The Basketball Hall of Famer, senior producer Devorah Klahr and assistant producer Christine Whelan devoted one episode, nearly 30 minutes in length, to a lesser-known chapter in history. While World War II covers a lot of ground in the annals of history — many of the biggest stories are about battles, heroes of land, air and sea combat and defeated forces — American Voices, , which was launched more than 14 years ago, focused on something different for the Dec. 31 episode.
The program was introduced this way on its website: “Remembering Chiune Sugihara, the Japanese consul who risked his life to save thousands of Jews during WWII. In Lithuania, in 1940, he acted against his government and issued thousands of visas to Jews who were desperate to escape from the impending Nazi takeover. Today, it’s estimated that at least 40,000 people are alive because of his heroic actions.”
Bradley, who celebrated his 76th birthday on Sunday, prefaced Sugihara’s story at the outset of the program. He reminded listeners that the show is usually “about people doing wonderful things in this country, but this week we have a special presentation for you.”
Descendants of Jews who fled Lithuania appear on the program. Voices of gratitude: children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren repeated the same message, saying they were saved by Sugihara.
“We’re alive thanks to this incredible man,” one of them said.
“What he had was an unbending devotion to doing what was right,” another said.
“If they didn’t leave, they knew they would be sent to concentration camps,” Bradley narrated.