On Feb. 19, 1942, then-President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, setting the wheels in motion for one of the largest violations of civil liberties in the country’s history. The forced exclusion of those of Japanese descent from the West Coast — most of whom were American citizens — and their mass incarceration in American concentration camps had been long ignored in history books until recent decades.
But in the 1980s, many Issei and Nisei survivors of the camps, along with their Sansei children or grandchildren, began a courageous quest to tell the truth, through the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians. This followed a movement in the Pacific Northwest in the late 1970s to launch the first “Day of Remembrance” event in the country.
Today, Japanese American communities across the country hold their own Day of Remembrance programs to not only educate the public of this dark chapter of history, but to also use our experience to be vigilant against similar injustices, such as the scapegoating of Muslim, Arab and South Asian communities post-9/11.
With the recent signing of the National Defense Authorization Act by President Barack Obama, which includes the concept of “indefinite detention” of civilians, it can cause us to ponder whether the lessons of our history have been truly understood.
This is why we must remember.
2012 Day of Remembrance events
Editor’s Note: This is not a comprehensive list.
Wednesday, Feb. 15
The “Japanese American Day of Remembrance” will begin at 11 a.m. at the South Seattle Community College, Jerry M. Brockey, Room A, at 6000 16th Ave., SW, Seattle. Mary Matsuda Gruenewald will discuss her memoir, “Looking Like the Enemy.” Mark Mitsui, president of North Seattle Community College, will speak. A photo exhibit by Teresa Tamura will be on display all week in the school library. Sponsored by South Seattle Community College Office of Diversity and Retention. Info: (206) 934-5214, Chanda.Ishisaka@seattlecolleges.edu or visit www.southseattle.edu.
Saturday, Feb. 18
• The Northern California Time of Remembrance will be held from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Secretary of State Auditorium 1500 11th St. in Sacramento, Calif. Doors open at noon. Producer Neil Simon will hold screen “Prisoners and Patriots: The Untold Story of Japanese Internment in Santa Fe.” His film brings to light the stories of the 4,555 Japanese men who were held in a Department of Justice incarceration camp during World War II. Simon will also participate in a Q-and-A-format session. The cost (donation) to attend the event is $15 for adults and $10 for students over 18. Students under 18 are free. This includes admission to the “Uprooted! Japanese Americans During World War II” exhibit in the California Museum. The Florin, Lodi, Placer County and Sacramento chapters of the Japanese American Citizens League will sponsor the event. Checks should be made payable to: NCTOR, and sent by Friday, Feb. 10 to: NCTOR, c/o 4206 Bouquet Way, Sacramento, CA 95834.Free parking is available across the street from the venue. Info: visit www.nctor.org or (916) 685-6747.
•The 2012 Los Angeles Day of Remembrance program will take place from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Japanese American National Museum (JANM) in Little Tokyo, located at 369 East First St. Robin Toma, executive director of the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations, will address the audience on this year’s theme: “70 Years After E.O. 9066: Defending our Civil Liberties.” Toma was the pro bono lead counsel for Carmen Mochizuki, et al. V. United States of America, and has a background in legal advocacy for human rights, race and language discrimination, immigrant rights, homeless rights and freedom of speech issues. traci kato-kiriyama will direct a multi-media performance piece. Shakeel Syed, executive director of the Islamic Shura Council, and a recipient of a Community Leadership Award from the Orange County Human Relations Commission will be one of the event’s emcees. NCRR, the Japanese American Citizens League’s Pacific Southwest District, and JANM organized and sponsored the program. Info: firstname.lastname@example.org or call (213) 284-0336.
• JANM will hold an unveiling party from 6 to 8:30 p.m. for its “Remembrance Project.” The online project will use first-person experiences, and aims to inspire and empower others with the survivors’ stories. Info: visit www.remembrance-project.org.
• Frank Abe’s “Conscience and the Constitution” will be screened at 1 p.m. at the Tateuchi Story Theatre at Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience, located at 719 South King St., in Seattle. The award-winning film details the largest organized resistance to the wartime incarceration of Japanese Americans. Following that, “With Honors Denied,” which depicts the true story of Yukiko Kubo Shiogi, an American who was betrayed by her own country. Actor George Takei narrated the film, which was written and produced by Mimi Gan and Jim Dever. The “Transcending: The Wat Misaka Story,” to be screened at 4:20 p.m., is a documentary about Wat Misaka, the first person of color to be drafted by the 1947 Knicks into what is now the NBA. The film was directed by Bruce Alan Johnson and Christine Toy Johnson. For more information, call (206) 623-5124 or visit www.wingluke.org.
• The Smithsonian will hold its 2012 annual Day of Remembrance from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Warner Bros. Theater, on the First Floor of the National Museum of American History, 14th St. and Constitution Ave., NW, in Washington, D.C. The theme of this year’s event is “For Country: Japanese American Soldiers and Citizens and the 70th Anniversary of Executive Order 9066.” Attendees will learn through objects, veterans, speakers, and films, as well as about the November 2011 awarding of the Congressional Gold Medal to the Japanese Americans who served in World War II. The event is free and open to the public. Info: visit http://apanews.si.edu/2012/01/24/annual-day-of-remembrance or call (202) 633-2691.
Saturday, Feb. 18 and Sunday, Feb. 19
Art Hansen, professor emeritus of history and Asian American studies at California State University, Fullerton (CSUF), will speak at the Manzanar National Historic Site’s Day of Remembrance events Saturday, Feb. 18 at 2 p.m. and Sunday, Feb. 19 at 11 a.m. at the Manzanar National Historic Site Interpretive Center, which is located at 5001 Highway 395, six miles south of Independence, Calif. Under Hansen’s leadership, the Japanese American Oral History Project of the CSUF Center for Oral and Public History published “Camp 100 and Community: Manzanar and the Owens Valley,” edited by Jessie A. Garrett and Ronald C. Larson, in 1977. The book, featuring interviews conducted in the early 1970s with 20 Owens Valley residents, “explores their complex and often conflicting reactions to having more than 10,000 Japanese Americans confined in their midst from 1942 to 1945.” Hansen will speak for 45 minutes and answer questions. The talks are free and open to the public. Manzanar National Historic Site Interpretive Center is located at. Info: (760) 878-2194 or visit www.nps.gov/manz.
Sunday, Feb. 19
• The Bay Area Day of Remembrance 2012 “Carrying the Light for Justice: 70 Years After Executive Order 9066” will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. at Kabuki Sundance Cinemas, located at 1881 Fillmore St. (at Post) in San Francisco’s Japantown. Karen Korematsu, co-founder of the Fred T. Korematsu Institute For Civil Rights and Education, will serve as the master of ceremonies. Lane Hirabayashi, of UCLA’s Asian American Studies Program, will give the keynote speech. Iman Amer Araim, a Muslim imam, will speak. The Dr. Clifford I. Uyeda Peace and Humanitarian Award will be presented to artist and World War II veteran Lewis Suzuki. Performances by ScoJourners rap group and students from the Japanese Bilingual Bicultural Program at Rosa Parks Elementary School. A candle-lighting ceremony will conclude with a candlelight procession led by the Japanese American Religious Federation to the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California, located at 1840 Sutter St.
• The Nihonmachi Outreach Committee (NOC) will hold its 32nd annual Day of Remembrance on Sunday, Feb. 19 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the San Jose Buddhist Church Betsuin, 640 North Fifth St., in San Jose’s Japantown. The theme for this year’s event is “Civil Liberties Under Siege.” Karen Korematsu, co-founder of the Fred T. Korematsu Institute for Civil Rights and Education, Zahra Billoo, executive Director of the Council of American-Islamic Relations San Francisco Bay Area chapter, and Rep. Mike Honda will speak. The event will include a candlelight procession through San Jose’s Japantown. San Jose Taiko will perform. The event is free and open to the public. Info: email@example.com; (408) 505-1186.
• The Central California District of the Japanese American Citizens League’s 2012 Day of Remembrance event will be held at the Clovis Veterans Memorial Building, located at 808 Fourth St., Clovis, Calif. The reception will start at noon, followed by lunch and the medal ceremony. The Congressional Gold Medal award replica will also be presented to local Japanese American World War II veterans. Tickets cost $40. Veterans and their spouses or a surviving spouse and one guest are invited free of charge. The event is co-sponsored by the Clovis Veterans Memorial District. RSVP by Sunday, Feb. 12: Contact Bobbi Hanada at (559) 434-1662.
• The 2012 Day of Remembrance Taiko Festival will take place at Seattle University’s Pigott Building, Broadway and East Madison Streets at 1 p.m. in Seattle. Yosh Nakagawa will serve as the main speaker, and Dale Watanabe as emcee. Both are members of the Minidoka Pilgrimage Committee. The following taiko groups are scheduled to perform: Inochi Taiko, Kaze Daiko, Ringtaro Tateishi School of Taiko, Northwest Taiko, Seattle Kokon Taiko, One World Taiko and Okinawan Taiko. A free exhibit in the Paccar Atrium, directly outside the auditorium, will open at noon. It will feature a display honoring the Nisei who received honorary degrees last year, and a display from the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Community and the National Park Service. A reception in the atrium will be sponsored by the Fred T. Korematsu Center for Law and Equality. Tickets are $20, and can be purchased online at www.brownpapertickets.com/event/219585, or at the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Washington office, located at 511 16th Ave. South, Seattle or at the Seattle University International Student Center, located at 901 12th Ave., Pavilion P160 in Seattle. Sponsors of this event include: The Fred T. Korematsu Center for Law and Equality, International Student Center and Office of the President, Seattle University and the JCCCW. Info: Contact Bif Brigman at: firstname.lastname@example.org or (206) 568-7114.
• The “Day of Remembrance 2012: Memories” will be held at the Chicago History Museum, located at 1601 North Clark St. in Chicago, from 2 to 4 p.m. The program is free and open to the public. The event will feature readings from “Omoide: Childhood Memories,” a collection of reflections on being Japanese American during World War II. Story artist Anne Shimojima will present her original performance piece “Hidden Memory: An American Story,” one family’s journey from Japan through the wartime incarceration camps. The Chicago Japanese American Council, the Chicago Japanese American Historical Society, the Japanese American Citizens League’s Chicago chapter and the Japanese American Service Committee will sponsor the event. Info: (773) 728-7171.
Sunday, Feb. 19 and through Sunday, Feb. 26
Celadon Inc. will hold its “Japanese American Day of Remembrance” Sunday, Feb. 19, from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at The Independent, located at 600 Ortiz Ave. in Sand City, Calif. Flauitist Elizabeth Miranda Todd and members of Watsonville Taiko will open the event. Photojournalist Tom Graves will present a talk entitled “Gold Medal Heroes: Our Nisei Veterans” at 6:30 p.m. Larry Oda, past national president of the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL), will give introductory remarks. Refreshments will be served. Donations will be accepted. “Heroes All: Our Nisei Veterans, Photographic Portraits” by Tom Graves, is presented in tandem with “ Transcendental Vision.” Graves’ black and white photographs capture images of the veterans’ 70 years after America’s entry into World War II. Info: Call Gail Enns at (831) 275-0332.
Monday, Feb. 20
• A one-day Films of Remembrance series held in conjunction with the event is scheduled for Monday, Feb. 20.
Wednesday, Feb. 22 and Tuesday, Feb. 28
• The Oregon Nikkei Endowment and the Portland State University Center for Japanese Studies will present a variety of upcoming events during February, to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the mass incarceration of persons of Japanese descent in American concentration camps during World War II. Peggy Nagae, who served as the lead attorney in the Yasui v. United States, case (which reopened Min Yasui’s Supreme Court case for violating the curfew imposed upon Japanese Americans during World War II) will moderate a panel discussion Wednesday, Feb. 22 with recent graduate students on the legacy of Executive Order 9066. The discussion will take place at 6 p.m. at the University of Oregon, White Stag Building, 70 NW Couch St. in Portland. Greg Robinson, Ph.D., will speak Tuesday, Feb. 28 at 6 p.m. at Portland State University’s Smith Memorial Student Union, Room 236, located at 1825 Southwest Broadway in Portland, during the “Japanese Redress in North America and its Larger Legacy” event. Robinson has two new books scheduled to appear in spring 2012. “After Camp” (University of California Press) and. “Pacific Citizens: Larry and Guyo Tajiri and Japanese American Journalism in the World War II Era” (University of Illinois Press). Info: visit www.oregonnikkei.org or call (503) 224-1458.
Sunday, Feb. 26
• The Steinbeck Institute for Arts and Culture, located at 940 North Main St. in Salinas, will hold its “Day of Remembrance to Reflect upon Life and Times at Salinas Rodeo Grounds.” The event will feature the Japanese American Museum of San Jose’s (JAMsj) “Rodeo Roundup” at 1:30 p.m. Bilingual storyteller Megumi will open the program. The main event, a panel discussion, will feature Sus Ikeda, Jack Matsuoka, Bob Oka and Aki (Awaya) Okuno, who will recount firsthand wartime experiences. JAMsj President Aggie Idemoto will facilitate the discussion. A mini-exhibit describing the life and times during incarceration at the assembly center will conclude the presentation. The program will begin at the California Historical Monument and Memorial Garden, located next to the Salinas Rodeo Grounds on the area formally known as the Salinas Community Center or Sherwood Gardens, and will proceed to the Santa Lucia Room of the Steinbeck Institute of Arts and Culture adjacent to the monument. The five Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) chapters of the Greater Monterey Bay area, Gilroy, Monterey Peninsula, San Benito County, Salinas Valley and Watsonville-Santa Cruz, sponsor the annual Day of Remembrance observance. The Gilroy chapter of the JACL will host the event. Info: Call Lily Kawafuchi at (408) 710-5079.
• The Bridge – JCI Heritage Center will host a Day of Remembrance commemorative program from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Gardena Valley Japanese Cultural Institute (JCI), at 1964 West 162nd St. in Gardena, Calif. Dr. Donald Hata, emeritus professor of history at California State University, Dominguez Hills, who was incarcerated at the Gila River concentration camp in Arizona, will be the featured speaker. Artist Hatsuko Mary Higuchi, who was incarcerated at the Poston concentration camp, will also be honored. Her artwork will also be on display. Info: (310) 324-6611 or email@example.com.