Remembrance Day

On this day 75 years ago, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 authorizing the imprisonment of over 120,000 Japanese people without notice, the right to a fair trial or the right to an attorney because they were deemed a threat to national security. The Japanese citizens were to leave their homes and abandon their jobs or businesses before being forced into internment camps. Although 2/3 of them were American citizens, they were treated like animals with multiple families assigned to live in horse stalls. Each person was demanded to pledge their allegiance to America, though they weren’t initially allowed to sign up for the military draft. Outside of the camps, U.S. police and troops aimed guns at the people in case they tried to escape. They were forced to register in a Japanese citizen registry in order for the U.S. to keep track of them. Surrounded by barbed wire and military weapons, the Japanese people were compelled to live their lives as normally as possible, even though they were prisoners. Fred Korematsu was a young Japanese man who refused to go to the internment camps and was imprisoned for defying the Executive Order. After arguing his case all the way to the Supreme Court, the court ruled against him, stating that the order was constitutional. The order has never been explicitly overturned, so legal imprisonment of American citizens can still happen. My family members were imprisoned during the Executive Order as well as citizens from HawaiĘ»i throughout the West Coast. Although the Japanese civilians were eventually allowed to return home, the repercussions of the order echoed throughout generations. Most mainland schools don’t teach students about what happened to the Japanese people during WWII. Children grow up learning about the different World Wars, but are ignorant of one of the greatest American injustices in history. Especially during a divisive time where exclusionary talks of Muslim registries reign free, may we never forget the wrongdoing through which Japanese suffered. To learn more, watch George Takei’s musical “Allegiance” (clip featured above).