200 Japanese Americans held a reunion at the Santa Anita Racetrack this past weekend to renew friendships and relive memories.
They were imprisoned there before being transferred to other makeshift lockups at Heart Mountain, Wyoming; Manzanar, California; Poston, Arizona; Rohwer, Arkansas-just to name a few.
“When we first went to Santa Anita the shower buildings weren’t built yet and so we had to shower where the horses were showering,” said Toshi Ito, 92. The mother of Judge Lance Ito of O.J. Simpson trial fame says her father committed suicide after returning to Los Angeles because he couldn’t get his old job back.
“Oh, I miss him so much,” she said through tears.
The reunion was held at the Japanese American National Museum and gave those in attendance to reconnect with some they haven’t seen in seven decades.
“It’s about being part of a community,” said June Aochi Berk, one of the organizers. “We all shared an experience together and we like to remember friends who are no longer with us and reconnect with old friends.”
Some 19,000 Japanese Americans went through Santa Anita in what was euphemistically referred to as an Assembly Center.
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