My dad (middle with snow cap) in Jerome, Arkansas during WWII.
My father, his sister and two brothers were American citizens born in California.
Usually, I write about baking, eating, baking, eating, my friends, and my cousin's cute dog. However, today's post is a little different.
Look at yourself in the mirror. Oh, ignore any zits, wrinkles or beauty marks. Think about your ancestry. English? German? Korean? Mexican? Italian? A mixture of all of them? Who do you you see?
69 year ago, on February 19, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 which cleared the way for the military to forcible remove anyone of Japanese descent (including American citizens born in the U.S.) from designated areas and incarcerate people like my dad, my friend's grandmother and 120,000 others. The United States government looked at my father and his family and decided they looked like the enemy. 2/3 of the people taken from the West coast were American citizens. My dad and his siblings were all U.S. citizens. They were not the enemy. They were farmers growing lettuce in California, raising their kids and trying to attain the American dream. My dad was 10 years old and liked reading comics and fishing.
What we you could carry.
Years later, the government apologized for the unjust treatment of the Japanese Americans. My dad framed the letter signed by the President. My father, like the rest of his family, loves this country. My dad and his brother served in the Air Force during the Korean War. And there are many veterans who served in the armed forces during WWII while their families were in camps. Get that? Your family needs to be locked up, but you can fight and die for your country. Read more about the 442nd here.
My dad is 100% American (just ask my mom...she jokes my dad's Japanese language skills are so poor that he wouldn't survive a minute in his parent's homeland); but his face and his bloodline moved his family into a racetrack, Arkansas and Arizona during the war.
So, today, please take a minute to remember this time in United States history. And today, please think about judging people by what you see...their face, their ancestry, their religion. We must all guard against racial profiling and civil rights violations, and make sure what happened to my family never happens again. Thanks for reading this. If you want to read more, here are some links:
1. Day of Remembrance event in Los Angeles, today at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles
2. Story about food memories and the effect of camp on the family dynamic in this NPR/Kitchen Sisters story: Weenie Royale: Food and the Japanese Internment.
3. Photos and Background: Japanese American Relocation Digital Archive (JARDA)
4. For my librarian readers and friends... Clara Breed was a San Diego public librarian who corresponded with her young patrons. Letters at JANM and Joanne Oppenheim wrote this book, Dear Miss Breed.
5. Lesson Plans for teachers and homeschoolers from JARDA, Manzanar National Historic Site, and the Japanese American National Museum