Several Japanese Americans who were too young to understand why suddenly they were living behind barbed wire 74 years ago are pausing to remember the anniversary of the signing of executive order 9066.
The edict signed on February 19, 1943 by President Franklin D Roosevelt ordered the mass incarceration of 120,000 Japanese Americans.
Karyl Matsumoto,72, was just three months old at the time when she moved to Manzanar with her family, according to the Daily Journal.
The longtime South San Francisco, CA city councilwoman says her mother rarely talked about that experience, but she did agree to share her thoughts in an oral history project shortly before her death in 2014.
“My mother and father taught me, rather than complain, the only way you can make it better is to help make the change,” said Matsumoto. “Hopefully people will speak up,” she said. “A greater awareness, understanding and compassion is what I’m hoping to achieve.”
Jon Watabe, 78, was just 5 years old when his mother and father were sent to Topaz Camp in Utah. To Watabe and the others, its important to remember the past.
“Hopefully this will not happen to another group,” he said to the Santa Rosa Press Democrat. “They’re talking about the Muslims the way they talked about the Japanese. Frankly, we’re just hoping that we’re the last group this ever happens to. We feel it’s important to remember what happened so we can prevent it from happening again.”
Marie Sugiyama was just six years old when she went to Camp Amache.
“We don’t think it’s right because of what happened to us,” she said about the discrimination being felt by Muslims today.
“What did 120,000 people do to land in this situation?” her sister-in-law Alyce Sugiyama , 90, added. “What did we do wrong, 120,000 of us?”
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