Column: Internees recount shameful chapter in history

internees garden 008

With Pomona hosting a community read around the memoir “Farewell to Manzanar,” the two first events focused on Manzanar and other World War II-era internment camps for Japanese-Americans. I attended both and write about them in Wednesday’s somewhat somber column.

Above, Jim Nakano, wearing his camp identification number, and Joyce Okazaki speak at the Pomona Public Library. A video of Okazaki talking about Ansel Adams taking her and her sister’s photos at Manzanar can be viewed here.

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  • Ramona

    Years ago – sometime in the ’70s – I had the privilege of working with a woman whose family had been interred at a “collection camp” at the L.A. Fair Grounds in Pomona before being transferred to Manzanar. She was a child at the time.

    I admired her greatly because she came through it with her family and retained her sense of humor. She didn’t mind talking about their experiences at camp and later after their release. They weren’t bitter at all.

    Even as an adult a difficult time understanding the logic, expense and shame of the “relocations” I still do.

    Here’s to you, Mrs Origuchi, wherever you are.

    • davidallen909

      It’s hard to imagine this ever happening again, but then, it’s hard to believe it happened to begin with. As Jim Nakano often says, it wasn’t unprecedented, because we also relocated American Indians.

  • Allan

    What follows is an article from Pomona Center News, May 23, 1942…

    “I Am An American” by May Horiuchi

    Today, May 17 1942, will be observed throughout the United Statesas “I am an American Day.” Let us all join the 130,000,000 patriotic Americans who, for the past two years have observed this day. The fact that this nation is at war with Japan should not shakeour loyalty to the United States.

    In this celebration, citizens of every race will take part but we, the Niseis, in the various scattered centers will be standing apart.

    We have been taught that Americanism rests on the fundamentals of freedom, tolerance, equality, equal opportunity and patriotism. These are bright shining emblems, and in our faith let us refuse to believe that the clouds passing over these emblems for us now will always darken our days.

    We know that the many Niseis that are called to armed service and those that are volunteering freely and willingly in reception center work must hold to that faith. For with that belief we can truly be glad that we are a part of America and may lift our heads and our hearts and proclaim even in our separation, “I am an American” with the 130,000,000 others.

    Americanism means vigilance of rights to liberty and freedom. Let us prepare ourselves to be ready when the time comes to defend and to uphold for the sake of America herself, the principles on which she has built a nation.

    Editor’s Note….

    This editorial was written by May Horiuchi, 15 year old student of Hollywood High School, member of the Pomona Center, for “I am an American Day”

    • davidallen909

      Pomona Center News was the camp newsletter for the “reception center” on the fairgrounds where many SoCal Japanese-Americans stayed briefly in 1942 before being sent to an internment camp such as Manzanar.