[Marxism] Manzanar's Bitter Tale -- Japanese-American internment

lshan at bcn.net lshan at bcn.net
Sun Apr 25 06:44:39 MDT 2004


April 25, 2004, MANZANAR, Calif. ‹ Hundreds of Japanese Americans who had
been held in World War II internment camps gathered here Saturday for the
first public look at an interpretive center that tells the bitter story of
their imprisonment with stark pictures and blunt words.

The sign at the entrance of the new National Park Service museum sets the
tone: "In 1942, the U.S. Government ordered more than 110,000 men, women and
children to leave their homes and detained them in remote military-style
. . .
Many former internees spoke with mixed feelings about the camps.

Eiichi Norihiro, 77, of Simi Valley stood on crutches in the camp's
cemetery. He had been imprisoned at Manzanar when he was 15, but was
transferred to a camp at Tule Lake in Northern California after being
labeled a troublemaker partly because he wouldn't wear a shirt that read

He contracted tuberculosis at Tule Luke, and he lost his right leg in the
early 1950s. He recalled his parents' bitter feelings about the camp. "We
were a family of eight, and we lost what little we had," he said. "We went
back to Japan after the war, then lost our land there. We lost on both sides
of the Pacific."

His memories of internment are filtered through the experience of playing
baseball games and socializing with the many girls who were his own age. Now
a retired accountant, he returned Saturday because "I don't want to forget
it, and I don't want the government to forget it."

For many Japanese Americans, the most nightmarish aspect of the camps was
the suddenness with which they were imprisoned. Many had to quickly sell
homes or businesses, often at a great loss. Some husbands and wives were
separated for months or years because they were sent to different camps.
The FBI plucked Japanese fishermen off the streets of Terminal Island and
sent them to Department of Justice camps. They feared the fishermen would
work with the Japanese navy to help plan attacks on the West Coast.
And yet Manzanar was also filled with stories of births and marriages and
lifelong friendships made there.

"I remember my kindergarten teacher in Los Angeles crying and I couldn't
understand why," said Teodor. She recalled the teacher explaining that "
'it's because you have to go to camp.' They gave me this rubber doll."

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