The Japanese Internment of World War II, Part 14: War’s End/Reparations/Final Thoughts
Victory in Europe (VE) Day Celebrations–image courtesy of www.gov.uk
As noted earlier, no sooner than the internment process began in the spring of 1942, did it become obvious that the whole operation had been a mistake. Of course, by then, the damage to the West Coast Japanese American community had been done. As early as January of 1943, at the same time that the government decided to allow Japanese Americans to serve in the armed services, various programs arranged for their release back into the civilian community. As reported in the July 30, 1943 Tulean Dispatch (the newspaper for the Tule Lake camp), some 76,000 “loyal Japanese” were to be returned to civilian life, a significant fraction of the 120,000 initially interned. That was the good news, but it was accompanied by significant bad: no one could return to those West Coast areas deemed militarily sensitive. WHICH MEANT that very few internees could go home (at least until the end of the war) to California or Washington. Consequently, many internees (mostly the young) moved to other western states and the midwest.
Most of the internment camps closed by the end of 1945, with Tule Lake being the last, in March of 1946. Sadly, many internees (particularly the elderly) did not leave their camps until they were forced out. Why? They had nowhere to go.
Photograph courtesy of Wikipedia.org
In 1988, after decades of efforts to seek redress for the internment, President Reagan signed into law the “Civil Liberties Act of 1988.” This piece of legislation provided monetary reparations but, more importantly, a statement that said what happened was the result of “race prejudice, war hysteria, and a failure of political leadership,” and not the concern over national security as had been trumpeted at the time.
Final thoughts? I think that the World War II internment debacle serves as a reminder to us all to remain ever watchful of our own personal tendencies toward prejudice. Sometimes, outright fear (such as experienced during the horrors of World War II) can make us do and say things that we know are wrong. None of us is immune, and we must be ever vigilant to new challenges and prejudices that face us in this 21st century.
This blog completes a fourteen-part series that I’ve written to accompany my historical novel, How Much Do You Love Me?, a mystery/love story that revolves around the Japanese internment of World War II. Feel free to share this blog and e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) me if you have any questions.
Stories you can listen to, #14: The Errant Ricochet: Max Rayburn’s Legacy
Public Domain, courtesy of F.G.O. Stuart (1843-1923)
In my continuing series of short stories, The Errant Ricochet: Max Rayburn’s Legacy, is probably my favorite. Why? Probably because of the effort it took me to write it: from beginning to end, it took about four years to finish. The original version was longer, too long, with unnecessary detail that needed to be stripped away.
In one respect, this story is an exception to my others. The house that I describe, which still exists below White Horse Mountain in Pennsylvania, is one where I lived in for a while in the 1950’s. And, strange as it may seem today, I remember my grandmother cooking meals for itinerant hobos who passed by. Before they left, she always made sure to give them some Christian literature.
Interestingly, I finished this story about the time that James Cameron’s blockbuster movie, Titanic, came out. I remember worrying at the time that it wasn’t fair, that his movie would be competing with my short story. Ha, Ha!
If you want to listen to or read this short story, click here.
Feel free to share this blog and e-mail me (email@example.com) if you have any questions.
Stories from My Life: Memories Made and Memories Lost
Public Domain, courtesy of the Library of Congress
I’m probably the most nostalgic, sentimental person I know. I save old letters and reread them. I enjoy reminiscing with relatives and retelling old family stories. And, I like to visit places that remind me of years past, often from childhood. Sometimes, though, the physical connection to those memories disappears. If a beloved friend, spouse, or child passes away, recollections may be satisfying, but bittersweet. On the flip side, something missing can induce a truly appalling reaction. The absence of the original twin towers in New York City elicits a painful memory: the horror of a terrorist attack on our country on 9/11.
So what spurred me to write a blog about memories past? The reason comes from the second photo above. While visiting my mother in Somerset, Pennsylvania, last week, I drove by the address where my best friend in high school, Jeff Hay, and I spent many a carefree summer afternoon playing Ping-Pong in his rec. room. I remember hearing my first Beatles song in that room. To complement our indoor activity, we rode our bikes outside in the driveway and shot hoops. We risked life and limb when we foolishly jumped off the roof of his house. And, we stayed up all night in an unsuccessful attempt to produce photographic evidence of a crafty raccoon.
But as you see from the picture, there is no house. It was demolished and replaced by a lawn, this despite the fact that it was one of the most modern houses in Somerset, for its time. The only evidence that something other than a grassy knoll ever existed is the small section of asphalt you see at the bottom of the photo; that was the bottom of Jeff’s driveway.
So what is my point? I guess it’s obvious. All of the memories discussed above exist only in the minds of Jeff and me. As is life itself, memories are fleeting. Enjoy them while you can. Better yet, dedicate your life to creating some that you know you’ll want to revisit later on.
To bring this blog full circle, I refer again to 9/11, a day when two additional events coincided. United Flight 93, the plane hijacked by al-Qaeda, went down only a few miles from Somerset. And, Jeff’s mother passed away in that missing house. To be sure, my visit last week reminded me not only of Jeff, but also of Mrs. Hay. I have fond memories of her. She had always been kind to me, this skinny kid from down the road.
The Japanese Internment of World War II, Part 13: The 442nd Regimental Combat Team
The 442nd in France in late 1944; image courtesy of US Army [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons Following the Pearl Harbor bombing on December 7th of 1941, many patriotic Japanese American citizens wanted to enlist in the armed forces. It wasn’t long, however, because of anti-Japanese hysteria, before their Selective Service classification as IV-C, Enemy… View Article
Stories you can listen to, #13: Heaven First
In my continuing series of short stories, Heaven First is sentimental and schmalzy. I may be wrong, but I think I got the idea for the approach for this story from a James Bond book; after a dinner party, Bond hears the fascinating story about a guest who had been sitting next to him. If you… View Article
Stories from My Life: Lessons learned from inside Nittany 40 at Penn State
Photo courtesy of www.libraries.psu.edu During my first year at Pennsylvania State University in 1963/64, I stayed in Nittany Halls, also known as Nittany Barracks. These structures (built after World War II to accommodate the influx of returning GIs) were spartan and small. Sometime after I left Nittany, rooms became “singles.” But while I was there,… View Article
The Japanese Internment of World War II, Part 12: Yes/Yes or No/No?
Significant news came from the Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson at the end of January 1943. “The War Department announced today that plans have been completed for the admission of American citizens of Japanese ancestry to the Army of the United States….” In addition, there was a simultaneous decision to allow Japanese citizens to… View Article
Stories you can listen to, #12: Millie’s Dilemma
In my continuing series of short stories, Millie’s Dilemma could best be described as a fantasy. It is probably the most esoteric and abstruse (read: strange) story I’ve written. Along with her boyfriend, Millie has participated in a crime that involves the very jewelry story in which she works. The two of them are now… View Article
Japanese American Citizens League forum on “Gaman”
I had the good fortune to be invited to a special function sponsored by the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) in Monterey on the 17th of May. To the left in the above photograph are the four panelists: Marie Mutsuki Mockett, yours truly, Luis Valdez, and Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston. To the right… View Article
Book signings are always fun!
More happy customers! This picture was taken this past Sunday at the Barnes and Noble at the Almaden Plaza Shopping Center in San Jose. It was a successful signing event; we sold all of the books the store ordered.