Day of Remembrance 2011 - Japanese American Internment

Saturday, February 19, 2011

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.

Look around at your house. All your belongings. Your car, your business, and for a child, your collection of toys. Everything was sold for pennies in a few days because you could only take 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
Pin It!


Unknown said... [Reply to comment]

This is such a nice post, Mary!

By the way, isn't your cousin speaking at Manzanar this weekend? I thought I had read that somewhere?

Panya said... [Reply to comment]

I tried to share this on Facebook & Twitter using the buttons here, but they aren't working. Had to do so manually. Just FYI.

Beth said... [Reply to comment]

Thanks for your post. Very moving. I have always thought that the Japanese Internment during WWII was one of the truly low points in US history. We have to remember so we do not repeat. I am enjoying the blog since I am also a librarian that cooks.

Eliana said... [Reply to comment]

Thanks so much for sharing this Mary. We must definite fight to end racial profiling that despite what we are led to believe is still happening quite a bit in this country.

Dinners and Dreams said... [Reply to comment]

I was not familiar with this part of history. Thank you for bringing it to our attention.


Lisa! said... [Reply to comment]

My father was born on December 7, 1949 in Glendale, California. My grandmother remembers being asked if she "minded" sharing a room with a Japanese-American woman who had also just given birth. Wondering why, she was informed of Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor. My spunky (even then) grandmother said, "She could hardly be involved, having just given birth. Why should it bother me? Bring 'em in."

She ran into the woman after the war, and the family had been interned for the duration of the war and lost everything- or rather, everything had been taken from them.

RobinD said... [Reply to comment]

Thank you for posting this blog entry. Not enough said about this terrible decision and time in US history.

greydawn said... [Reply to comment]

beautiful post, send shivers down my spine that this happened. My husband is an American who immigrated in the 1970's from Lebanon after 9/11 believe me we were afraid of what could happen. Thanks for this post!

Valerie Zagami said... [Reply to comment]

Thank you for reminding us (and educating some)to the horrors of the past and hope for the future that atrocities like these never get repeated. Also a big hug and thank you to your dad and family.

webmailaddress2 said... [Reply to comment]

What a thoughtful post. Thanks for bringing awareness to the subject.

Jodie said... [Reply to comment]

Thanks for sharing. This happened to my mom's family- they lived in San Clemente, where Camp Pendleton is now and were forced to give up the land and move inland to Utah. My mom wasn't born yet, but her parents and brother and sister remember how difficult this time was.

Gail said... [Reply to comment]

Thanks for letting us know about this day, Mary. What happened to your father and others is unconscionable. Given the state of things in the world today, it's unfortunate that "Never Again" keeps happening (e.g, genocide in Rwanda and other places). Having been born 10 years after the Holocaust, this resonates with me.


Mary said... [Reply to comment]

Thank you for this post. I think that in a small way, talking about what happened is important and honors your dad and all the others. Hugs.

KK said... [Reply to comment]

Mary this post is amazing - so moving and so inspirational - yes...inspirational. Your words and the injustice served against your father and so many others inspire me to be to do better! Just today my niece told a joke (that I found to be offensive)...a joke that was told to her by a school-mate. I could have said nothing - as she was in the backseat with her cousin and they (only being 7 and 8 years) thought nothing of the limerick and laughed it off... But as a person who has been discrminated against because the color of my skin, because I'm a sensible adult - it was my responsibility to set the record straight - at least with the two of them (gotta' start somewhere)...

Thank you for sharing such a moving piece of your family's history.

Nikki said... [Reply to comment]

Thanks so much for posting this, Mary. As the one token Asian kid in most of my grade school classes, I was often left horrified as teachers glossed over the subject like it was no big deal. I'm so sorry that your dad and grandparents had to go through this.

Post a Comment

Blog Widget by LinkWithin