Japanese Internment Camps

Alexander Novati/Wikimedia

December 7th, 1941 was forever branded by Franklin Delano Roosevelt as the "day which will live in infamy," for the Japanese attack on American forces at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.  But his administration soon followed with another day seared into the memories of Japanese-American families: February 19, 1942. 

San Jose Taiko via YouTube

Taiko drumming and swing music are not frequently mentioned in the same sentence.  So here's a new sentence: San Jose Taiko and the Humboldt State University Jazz Orchestra are teaming up for Swingposium on the Road

It goes beyond music; the presentation features a series of living history events set in a mess hall at a World War II Japanese-American concentration camp. 

War Relocation Authority, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6016349

Governments are not fond of admitting mistakes, you might have noticed.  It often takes a while, as it did with the federal government and the decision to lock up American citizens of Japanese descent during World War II. 

The program was controversial even in its times, but the government still chose to document what it was doing.  The result was a collection of photographs by some of the best photographers in the business, now contained in a book called Un-American: The Incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II

Alexander Novati/Wikimedia

They were doing the same things as other Americans, working, playing, raising families.  Until the attack on Pearl Harbor. 

Then, suddenly, they were not Americans, they were people of Japanese descent, and suspected of divided loyalties or worse.

The United States ran concentration  camps for Japanese-Americans during World War II, a story retold in great depth by Richard Reeves in Infamy: The Shocking Story of the Japanese American Internment in World War II.

Dorothea Lange/National Archives

The shipping of Japanese-Americans to prison camps during World War II is not one of the prouder episodes in American history.  But it is a well-documented episode.

Some of the best-known American photographers of the time, including Dorothea Lange and Ansel Adams, captured images of American citizens held captive in the name of security. 

A new collection of the photographs is offered in the book Un-American.  Photo historians Richard Cahan and Michael Williams assembled the collection. 

Telling The Story Of Tule Lake's Dark Past

Dec 16, 2016

A major story in American history took place in the Klamath Basin, and it will be acknowledged more prominently in the future.  The only question is HOW prominently. 

The Tule Lake area was home to internment camps during the second world war, keeping Japanese-Americans away from their homes and out of the general population. 

The Tule Lake Unit of the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument is developing a management plan for how to better tell the story of what happened there. 

Public meetings have already been held and comments have been received. 

Tom Parker/National Archives

The discussion of the plans for the places that once held Japanese-American internment camps prompts a revisit with an earlier guest. 

Precious Yamaguchi is the granddaughter of people who were sent to the camps during World War II. 

She wrote a book about women in the camps, Experiences of Japanese American Women during and after World War II.

Learning About Japanese American Internment

Oct 10, 2016
Alexander Novati/Wikimedia

Precious Yamaguchi heard the term "camp" a lot growing up in a Japanese American household. 

It wasn't until she was a little older that her parents and grandparents added a key modifier to the phrase: internment camps.  Her exploration of the effects of the camps on family members and other led to a monograph, Experiences of Japanese American Women during and After World War II

Dr. Yamaguchi now teaches communications courses at Southern Oregon University. 

Memories Of Min, Who Fought Internment

Oct 6, 2016

Minoru Yasui is no longer with us, but he is well-remembered as the 100th anniversary of his birth approaches. 

Yasui was a native Oregonian, born in Hood River.  But that status did not stop the federal government from sending him to an internment camp during World War II. 

His legal training and challenge to the internment made him famous and earned him a Presidential Medal of Freedom. 

Yasui is remembered in the film "Never Give Up! Minoru Yasui and the Fight for Justice," and a play called "Citizen Min," written by Holly Yasui and directed by Chisao Hata

Angel Island Honors Immigrants Past

Sep 7, 2016

Angel Island in San Francisco Bay served as something like a West Coast version of Ellis Island: an entry port for immigrants. 

Its past is also a shade darker, as the Island also played a part in excluding some people from immigration. 

The state of California just allocated money to finish the restoration of the immigration station.  It's a thrill to the Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation, which worked for the restoration and continues to collect the stories of immigrant families in its "Immigrant Voices" project. 

Interning Japanese Americans: "Infamy"

May 19, 2015
Henry Holt and Company

Much of World War II took place half a world away from where we live. 

But then... the recent anniversary of the people killed by a balloon bombing in Bly, Oregon provided one reminder that the war came closer. 

Then there's the issue of the internment camps for Japanese-Americans near the state line, covered in Richard Reeves's book Infamy: The Shocking Story of the Japanese-American Internment in World War II

When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941, everything changed for Masuo Yasui, his wife, Shidzuyo, and their seven children.