The Japanese Internment of World War II, Part 5: Their world turned upside down
This blog is Part 5 of a series discussing the internment of Japanese in the United States during World War II. This sequence is meant as an accompaniment to my historical novel, How Much Do You Love Me?
The bombing of Pearl Harbor by Japan in December of 1941 immediately clouded the future of all West Coast Japanese in the United States. Fear and racism abounded, and less than three months later, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which led to the internment of 120,000 Japanese men, women, and children into camps. My book follows the plight of one such family from Bellevue, Washington.
President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 on February 19, 1942. In this photo, courtesy of the Library of Congress, Roosevelt signs a declaration of war against Germany on December 11, 1941.
It is hard to imagine something like this happening today, but it happened in the United States in 1942. At the time, there was a law that prevented Asian aliens (those not born in the United States), such as the Japanese, from owning land. For that reason, Japanese families often put land they purchased into the names of their children, if they had any. These families were better off than most, who when they were ordered to leave their rented homes, had nowhere to store their belongings. A few had Caucasian friends who offered to store their household goods until they came back. Those were the exceptions. Limited to one suitcase and one duffel bag per family, everything else had to be sold or given away. Good furniture and appliances went for practically nothing. But besides personal possessions, can you imagine the turmoil created by leaving jobs and, for students, having to discontinue studies in the middle of a school year?
The Japanese made the best of an impossible situation. To no avail, the Japanese emphasized their patriotism, buying war bonds, for example. Young Japanese males–bona fide American citizens–volunteered to join the service; but because they were part of an excluded group, they were turned away. (As will be discussed in another segment, this decision was later reversed.)
The above photograph (again, courtesy of the Library of Congress) is a good example epitomizing what happened. Here is a picture of a Japanese storefront, marketing fruits and vegetables. Across the front is a sign stating, “I am an American.” The owner has done his best to proclaim his allegiance to the United States. But above the store a second sign makes clear to everyone that his proclamation of patriotism has fallen on deaf ears. He has had to sell his store, probably for pennies on the dollar.
Up next: The Japanese Internment of World War II, Part 6: One family’s journey to their internment camp
Stories you can listen to, #4: Under Penalty of Prosecution
In my continuing series of short stories, this one is told from the point of view of an 8-year-old boy.
I don’t know how you were as a kid, but I was always afraid of doing something wrong. Perhaps it was because I grew up influenced by a church that looked upon activities as diverse as dancing and playing cards as an easy way to find yourself stuck in the confines of an eternal hell. Or maybe it was just because I was a sensitive boy and didn’t want to hurt anyone.
I can remember saying to a friend (in second or third grade) something like the following: “You know, don’t you, that this is the first day of the rest of your life.” I have no idea where I picked up saying something so sophisticated (for my age), but I do remember fretting over the stress I had placed on an innocent fellow classmate, obviously causing him immense pain as he pondered the implications of my profound statement. It took me years to realize that I had not, in fact, violated some innate religious rule.
My short story, Under Penalty of Prosecution, plays on the fears of a boy who has witnessed what he knows to be a dastardly deed and figures himself to be an accomplice.
To listen to or read this short story, click here.
The Japanese Internment of World War II, Part 4: Executive Order 9066
This post is part of a continuing series of blogs accompanying the release of my historical novel, How Much Do You Love Me? Parts 1, 2, and 3 covered “Pre-Pearl Harbor,” “Pearl Harbor,” and “Anti-Japanese Frenzy,” respectively.
As you recall, Pearl Harbor was bombed on December 7th, 1941. Not long afterward, pubic sentiment, fueled mainly by politicians and outrageous public statements of Japanese American disloyalty, reached a fervor.
Responding to this frenzy, Secretary of War Henry Stimson recommended to Attorney General Francis Biddle on January 25 that they officially define military exclusion zones, areas deemed sensitive for West Coast military operations. Biddle interpreted this request to mean the exclusion of only aliens (non citizens) from these zones. However, Lt. General John DeWitt, the commanding officer of the Fourth Army and Western Defense Command, who had stoked the fires of anti-Japanese hysteria immediately following Pearl Harbor, had influence with President Roosevelt. And so, on February 19th, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order No. 9066, which authorized the Secretary of War to set up the militarily sensitive areas. Only weeks later, on March 3, 1942, General DeWitt announced to reporters that all Japanese, citizens or not, would be forced to leave those Pacific exclusion zones.
The number, 9066, would remain stenciled on the minds of all West Coast Japanese. Up next: The Japanese Internment of World War II: Part 5: Their world turned upside down
Note:Both photographs above courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration.
The Japanese Internment Of World War II, Part 3: Anti-Japanese Frenzy
This series of blogs is being published to coincide with the release of my historical novel, How Much Do You Love Me? Parts 1 and 2 covered the pre-war situation for Japanese Americans and the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Part 3 covers what happened following Pearl Harbor. Pearl Harbor immediately ratcheted up ill feelings toward the… View Article
Stories you can listen to, #3: A Matter of Honor
In my continuing series of short stories, this one deviates significantly in tone from the first two. The Curious Miss Crabtree is a humorous tale. Mary’s Secret delves into the mystery of a six-year-old girl who has two close friends who visit her in her room, always after the stroke of midnight. Are they real or just imaginary?… View Article
Let celebrations begin! It’s August 12th, the official release date for How Much Do You Love Me?
Order your copy by clicking here; you can choose from Cedar Fort, Barnes and Noble, or Amazon. FYI, the Amazon Kindle version can be ordered now, and the other electronic versions will be available shortly, View Article
Paul and Becky’s excellent adventure at Cedar Fort Publishing
The publisher for my historical novel, How Much Do You Love Me? is Cedar Fort Publishing, located in Springville, Utah, just south of Salt Lake City. Cedar Fort is medium-sized, as publishers go, putting out about 160 books per year. My book is scheduled for release on August 12th. Becky and I were fortunate to… View Article
The Japanese Internment of World War II, Part 2: Pearl Harbor
As noted earlier, to complement the August 12 release of my historical novel, How Much Do You Love Me? I am writing a series of blogs detailing the history surrounding the Japanese internment. In Part 2, I will touch on events occurring the very day of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, from the perspective of… View Article
The Japanese Internment of World War II, Part 1: Pre-Pearl Harbor
As a complement to the August 12th release of my historical novel, How Much Do You Love Me? I plan to write a series of blogs detailing the history surrounding the Japanese internment of World War II. Although How Much? is a love story/mystery that is the product of my imagination, the accompanying historical details… View Article
Short story number two: Mary’s Secret
As I mentioned in my last blog, I intend to include on my web site–on approximately a monthly basis–some of my short stories. And those stories will be available to both read and listen to. “The Curious Miss Crabtree,” a humorous tale of two boys delivering Christmas cookies to a scary neighbor lady was the… View Article