"Tagged for evacuation, Salinas, California," May 1942 | Russell Lee
This is a file from the Wikimedia Commons
February 20, 2012 marked the 70th anniversary of #EO9066, the executive order signed by Franklin Delano Roosevelt that authorized the deportation and eventual detainment of Japanese Americans from the west coast during World War II. Here is a great rundown of some of the essential facts related to internment, a particularly dark spot on our nation’s history and one glossed over by Democrats and Republicans alike.
Of the 120,000 Japanese-Americans imprisoned, 2/3 were American citizens making the number of Japanese-Americans interned without cause greater then the population of Wichita, Kansas. Americans with as little as 1/8 Japanese ancestry were interned, including orphan infants and Americans of Taiwanese and Korean descent.
Poetry in History
...In an era of liberal personhood, when most — but certainly not all, recent legislation in Arizona being a case in point — citizens of the United States enjoy relative protection under the law, how are we to respond to the egregious moment in 1942 when crowds of Japanese immigrants and their American-born children were herded onto fairgrounds, relegated to horse stalls and racetracks, and “relocated” to barbed-wire compounds and hastily constructed prison barracks throughout the nation? And all this, in response to sentiment like that expressed by columnist Henry McLemore: “I am for the immediate removal of every Japanese on the West Coast to a point deep in the interior. I don’t mean a nice part of the interior either. Herd ‘em up, pack ‘em off and give ‘em the inside room in the badlands… Personally, I hate the Japanese. And that goes for all of them.”
California has now become
a far country
listening to rumbling train
we have come a long way
The Delta Ginsha [a free-verse poetry club] was founded in 1918 by Neiji Qzawa… Its members met monthly and submitted their haiku to the master of the month, who was usually the host or hostess for the evening. They submitted for consideration as many poems as they desired. The poems were then read and discussed and a vote was taken to determine the best haiku… It was an evening anticipated by the members—grape growers, onion farmers, teachers, housewives, bankers, pharmacists, and others—who had assembled for an enlightening cultural and social event.
Executive Order 9066
Japanese-American internment was the relocation and internment by the United States government in 1942 of approximately 110,000 Japanese Americans and Japanese who lived along the Pacific coast of the United States to camps called "War Relocation Camps," in the wake of Imperial Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor. The internment of Japanese Americans was applied unequally throughout the United States. Japanese Americans who lived on the West Coast of the United States were all interned, while in Hawaii, where more than 150,000 Japanese Americans composed over one-third of the territory's population, 1,200 to 1,800 Japanese Americans were interned. Of those interned, 62% were American citizens.
In 1988, Congress passed and President Ronald Reagan signed legislation which apologized for the internment on behalf of the U.S. government. The legislation said that government actions were based on "race prejudice, war hysteria, and a failure of political leadership". The U.S. government eventually disbursed more than $1.6 billion in reparations to Japanese Americans who had been interned and their heirs.