A Day of Remembrance for Japanese Internment

Every year, I try to remember some of the most important historical days for people of my cultures and other backgrounds: Lā Kuʻokoʻa, Lā Hoʻihoʻi Eā, and the Day of Remembrance for Japanese people in America are some of the few I never forget. Today is the Day of Remembrance where we recognize the approximately 120,000 Japanese people in America who were forcibly sent to internment camps after President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 in 1942. The Executive Order allowed the U.S. military to imprison thousands of citizens simply because of their ethnic backgrounds. People of Japanese heritage were given six days to pack up all of the belongings they could hold in their hands and abandon everything they had worked hard for– homes, jobs, and schools were all left behind. Each family lived in a horse stall for the remainder of the war where they were isolated and suffered through numerous food shortages and health violations. The United States government—after sending its own citizens to prison camps under the presumption that all Japanese people were conspiring with the government and military of Japan—forced these same detainees to pledge their allegiance to America or face retribution. After the government allowed Japanese citizens to join the military, it allowed them to sacrifice their bodies, but kept their families in the camps. Japanese people were kept in barbaric living conditions and fought under the premise that they would be considered citizens with full rights if they paid their dues to the country. Those who resisted fighting in the military and would not swear their allegiance to the country that imprisoned them faced serious consequences for their actions. Members of my grandparents’ families were held in these internment camps, which is why this Day of Remembrance matters even more to me. Knowing that the U.S. government simply created an enemy out of its own people in 1942 and constantly repeats the brutality against every other nonwhite group is abhorrent. May we all use this Day of Remembrance to recognize the horrors in American history that aren’t always widely taught and may we never forget what America did to the Japanese people.