Day of Remembrance Events on February 19 Teach American History

S. F. Mori

Japanese Americans were unjustly incarcerated in camps

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Poster Instructing Japanese Americans(Image is author's)

After the bombing of Pearl Harbor in Hawaii on December 7, 1941, by the Imperial Navy of Japan, the United States entered World War II. People living in the United States who were of Japanese heritage were immediately looked upon as the enemy. Although they had been faced with racism and prejudice for many years, World War II made life worse for these American citizens and immigrants of Japanese descent.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 on February 19, 1942. This order gave authority to military commanders in certain areas to remove any persons from the region. It was only used in the Western part of the continental United States and only against persons of Japanese ancestry living on the West Coast, including most of California, Oregon, and Washington. It was not enacted in Hawaii where there was a large population of people who were ethnic Japanese.
It was later determined by a commission to be the result of racism, war hysteria, and a lack of competent government leadership at that time

Signs were placed on poles telling the Japanese people to get ready to leave their homes. They generally had only a matter of a couple of weeks or less to prepare. Most lost everything they had owned as they were put into hastily constructed camps built in remote and desolate areas of the country. They lost their freedom as well and perhaps their dignity.

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Camp Barracks(Image is author's)

Most of these people who were unjustly incarcerated in the ten American concentration camps stayed there for the duration of the war. They were released when the war ended. Most had to start over with virtually nothing. It was a difficult time for them. Some had lingering emotional problems for the rest of their lives.

Many groups of Japanese Americans hold a Day of Remembrance on or around February 19 each year to commemorate the event. They want to teach the younger generations and the general public about the history so that no one else will ever have to suffer such an egregious violation of the Constitution. Two thirds of those incarcerated were American citizens.

Utah currently has a bill in the legislature which was presented by Utah State Senator Jani Iwamoto to make the date of February 19 a permanent Day of Remembrance in Utah. It passed the Senate unanimously and is expected to do the same in the House of Representatives of Utah. Some other states have already enacted such measures.

The Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) is the oldest and largest Asian American civil and human rights organization. It was formed in 1929 by young Americans of Japanese heritage to fight for the civil rights of their community. JACL chapters and groups organize Day of Remembrance events.

Because of the COVID pandemic, many of the Day of Remembrance events for this year will be virtual. The public is invited to join in and learn about this dark part of American history. Information is at the JACL website on the various events.

[Reference: www.jacl.org. Click on events and then Day of Remembrance to get a listing and sign up to watch and learn. Information also from the book, The Japanese American Story As Told Through A Collection Of Speeches and Articles, www.thejapaneseamericanstory.com]

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I am a retired President/CEO of civil rights organizations. I have been a Mayor and California State Assemblyman as well as a College Instructor of Economics. I have also been an entrepreneur and international business consultant. I will be sharing articles mostly about life, politics, racism, travel, health, and relationships.

Salt Lake City, UT
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