On February 19, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, targeting Japanese Americans as threats to national security and giving the US military the right to send anyone of Japanese ancestry, including American citizens born in the United States, to internment camps.
More than 120,000 men, women, and children were sent to internment camps throughout the West during World War II as a result.
There were ten internment camps: Two in Arizona (Gila River and Poston), two in Arkansas (Jerome and Rowher), two in California (Manzanar and Tule Lake), and one each in Colorado (Amache), Idaho (Minidoka), Utah (Topaz), and Wyoming (Heart Mountain).
Today marks the 70th anniversary of that signing. February 19 is the Day of Remembrance for Japanese Americans.
In New York, the Day of Remembrance will be observed on March 24 at the Japanese American United Church.
Organizers are planning a potluck program that will feature “From Minidoka to Minnesota,” a presentation by Fred Hagstrom, Rae Schupack Nathan Professor of Art at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota. Hagstrom will discuss the book deeply honored, which is the story of Frank Shigemura, a Japanese American student who, because of the Student Relocation Council, was able to leave an internment camp to attend Carleton College.
The New York Day of Remembrance will also give special recognition to the recipients of the Congressional Gold Medal, awarded last year to the 442 Combat Regiment, 100th Battalion, and Military Intelligence Service. A candle lighting ceremony to honor and remember those who were imprisoned rounds out the program.
To read a blog entry about my visit to the National Japanese American Memorial in Washington, DC, last year, click here.