Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A Shameful Period in Our History

It seems that I have been reading a lot of books lately with the same theme or at least the same subject matter: the Japanese-American internment camps during World War II.  My grandfather was a Navy corpsman in the Pacific at Saipan and Okinawa during the war so I am familiar with some of that history.  However, I knew nothing about the internment camps in our own country.  President Franklin D. Roosevelt authorized the expulsion of people with Japanese ancestry from the West coast of the U. S. on February 19, 1942, with Executive Order 9066.  Approximately 110,000 Japanese-Americans and Japanese who lived on the Pacific coast were "relocated."  This exclusion order was not rescinded until January 1945 and the last camp was not closed until 1946.  During WWII, Colorado governor Ralph Lawrence Carr was the only elected official to apologize publicly for the internment of American citizens--it cost him re-election but a statue of him was erected by the residents of Denver's Japantown.  It wasn't until the 1980s and 1990s that the internees or their heirs were paid reparations--or a formal apology was issued by the U. S. government.  Whether you believe it was justified, was racial persecution, or you are divided on the subject, please read the following books.  They will introduce you to a part of our not so distant past, teach you about hardship and resiliency, and tug at your emotions as you look through the eyes of the internees and their families.  Please read these stories because it is important to understand our history so that we're not doomed to repeat it. 


Korematsu v. United States by Karen Alonso

Looking Like the Enemy
by Mary Matsuda Gruenewald

Farewell to Manzanar
by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston

Years of Infamy
by Michi Nishiura Weglyn


Tallgrass by Sandra Dallas

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
by Jamie Ford

Snow Falling on Cedars
by David Guterson

When the Emperor Was Divine
by Julie Otsuka

Southland by Nina Revoyr

Why She Left Us
by Rahna Reiko Rizzuto

Camp Nine
by Vivienne Schiffer

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