You know, I didn’t know anything about
the incarceration until I was in eighth grade and my history teacher talked a
little bit about, you know, Japanese Americans and Japanese going to camps.
And she turned and asked me was your family in there, and I said no. I
went home and I asked my mom. She goes yes. And that’s when she started bringing
out all these books from camp, the pictures from camp, and I started
hearing about the stories from camp. As a kid you just don’t think about what camp
means, right, and of course it meant in her case Manzanar, in my dad’s case
Minidoka. Well, my dad wasn’t with us because my dad was taken from Bainbridge
Island to another camp. We were incarcerated for no reason, with no
justice or anything. That’s one thing. The thing that they don’t remember is the
fact that we lost everything when we had to leave our homes. Many lost their farms,
their land, their stores, their businesses. My two brothers older than me were able
to be in the 442nd. In this case, the Japanese Americans had very much
honorable values. Loyalty. Loyalty to your country.
In spite of a sour hand dealt, you know, it’s still your country of birth
and that you serve. And I think that their bravery and their loyalty to their
country was proved on the battlefields and on their shoulders we stand today.
Part of this is getting to know the people. So much of this is really
one-on-one. If you get to know people, they’re very different than their
stereotypes. The wartime Commission on redress in the incarceration said that
fear, prejudice, and the absence of political leadership got them into that
position. If you’re an American citizen, you should deserve all your rights as an
American. Thomas Jefferson is attributed with the quote, right, “Eternal vigilance
is the price of liberty.” The people should hold our political leadership
accountable as well as community members that we live with and among. This isn’t a
Japanese American story. This is an American story. This is about citizenship.
This is about the country living up to their promise in the Constitution.
Hopefully we put the right people in the right offices to make sure that those
rights are taken care of