A few Sundays ago, we wrote a column about those terrible days in spring 1942 when 110,000 persons of Japanese descent, many of them American citizens, were yanked from their homes, schools, businesses and put in interment camps.
The column spurred the memories of our readers, and we share a few of them today.
Tadashi Kishi was imprisoned at Manzanar in 1942.
"What was missing was the statement that more than half, who were citizens, were denied their 'rights' guaranteed by our Constitution. You also stated that the Japanese were allowed to return to their homes. Majority had no homes to return to because the Japanese immigrants were not allowed to become citizens or to own property. They were also vilified that they could not assimilate into our American society.
"I was born and raised in California and had never been to Japan before WWII. I was 20 years old and my draft status was 1-A, citizen. Without the process and without my knowledge, I was reclassified 4-C because I looked like the enemy. At no time was I allowed to protest, even though our Constitution guaranteed my rights as citizen. It was a convenient ply by our government to label me as 4-C to incarcerate me as an enemy and put me behind barbed wire. It is ironic that my brother had already been drafted in to the U.S. Army to study of all things, Japanese military language and serve in the Pacific theater."
From Joyce Okimoto we got this email:
"I was born in camp so have no experience of those days, but my siblings and parents all have lived different lives because of those days in camps. Ours was four years. The government told us that we could leave after two years, but all that discrimination and my parents left at the very end, for they had nowhere to go. What a scary time for them.
"My husband studied hard and has many degrees, so it did make us much stronger. At least some of us, but so many people have never heard about the 110,000 people that were sent into camps behind barbed wires with guns at the lookout posts."
Gayle Itaya sent a correction:
"Heirs were not included in the disbursement of $20,000 for each affected Japanese-American. My grandparents, father and husband had died prior to the payment and apology of their rights being taken. Neither they nor I got any reparations from the government for their incarceration."
The Civil Liberties Act of 1988 was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan. In the 1990s, it was amended and more money was added. Some heirs received reparations, but obviously not all.
Peter E. Sandholt remembered the day his Japanese-American playmate left.
"It hurt to see him go. I was there when the military came in trucks and buses to pick them up. All they could take was what they could carry, most had small suitcases and boxes tied with rope or twine."
Days Gone By appears on Sundays. Contact Nilda Rego at firstname.lastname@example.org.