Thursday, April 04, 2002

How "Internment" relates to us today

Mercury News of San Jose published a profoundly thoughtful article on internment and how it relates to us. For the full article see:

Some excerpts are provided below. Under the subtitle of "Contradiction seen" there are facts about the internment that are at once sobering and inspirational. Please read on.

By Ken McLaughlin

.... On April 27, East Beach Street in Watsonville will look like a movie set, with vintage costumes, sedans and a police car -- even a Greyhound bus built six decades ago. The Mello Center for the Performing Arts will be turned into an internment camp replete with uniformed guards in watchtowers.

It was on April 27, 1942, that more than 1,100 Santa Cruz County residents -- among 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry on the West Coast -- were ordered to report to the veterans hall to be bused to the Salinas Assembly Center at the California Rodeo Grounds. They were then taken to a desolate desert camp in Poston, Ariz., where most lived out the war years behind barbed wire. The last train from Salinas left on the Fourth of July. .....

"It's taken Japanese-Americans more than 50 years to be able to do something like this,'' said Aptos historian Sandy Lydon, who has studied the internment for 35 years. "This is a sign of a mature, very self-assured community. It's not about laying out piles of guilt. It's about warning people how easily something like this can happen."

"And after the backlash against the Arab-American community after Sept. 11, it becomes even more poignant and relevant.'' ....

U.S. `had no choice'

Some local residents and U.S. veterans have griped that they're tired of hearing about the internment and would prefer to move on.

"Vet groups aren't too enthusiastic,'' said Jim Henegen, 67, first vice commander of Watsonville's American Legion post. ``America had no choice. We didn't know who was who.'' .....

Said Navy veteran Art Bailey, 78, of Watsonville: "At least we didn't line them up and kill them like they did our guys.'' ......

Contradiction seen

The well-known part of the story is that most Pajaro Valley residents did not want the Japanese and Japanese-Americans to return -- or even to participate in the U.S. military. Instead, they sent 15,000 telegrams to Congress to ask lawmakers to strip all people of Japanese ancestry of their American citizenship and "return'' them to Japan.

But, Hashimoto said, a lesser-known story is that a small minority of Pajaro Valley residents refused to go along. They spoke out against the internment in letters to the editor. They secretly stored the personal belongings in their attics. They argued -- years before the idea was popular -- that the internment was simply un-American.

Those residents -- attorneys such as John McCarthy, Phil Boyle and Stephen Wyckoff, as well as the Rev. Allan W. Geddes -- will be honored at the April 27 event. ......

The event also will tell the stories of local Japanese-American veterans who served in the U.S. Army's Military Intelligence Service and the 100th/42nd Regimental Combat Team, the most decorated unit in the U.S. Army's history.

The ceremony will close with a song from a choir of elderly Japanese and Japanese-American women: "God Bless America.'' (THE END)


If you have not joined yet, please DO YOUR SHARE! There are six types of 80-20 memberships:
1. Basic (1 vote) -- $35
2. Family (for couples only, 2 votes) -- $50
3. Life** -- $1000
4. Family life** (couples only, 2 votes) -- $1,500
5. Honorary Life** -- $5,000
6. Honorary Family** (couples only, 2 votes) -- $10,000
** Membership names in permanent display on 80-20's web site. See .

Any US citizen or permanent resident can be a member TODAY using a credit card, visit .
PERSONAL checks are payable to "80-20 PAC", mailed to:
Professor Chun Wa Wong
3780 Keystone Ave. Suite 106
Los Angeles, CA 90034-6363
Write down your e-mail address in the check. Thank you.