A bit of Japanese American history has been turned to rubble to make way for a $1.2 billion entertainment district in Omaha, reports the Omaha World-Herald.
The homes destroyed for the complex were at one time part of Boys Town- an organization in Nebraska dedicated to at-risk boys in need of housing and education.
During WWII, Boys Town Founder Father Ed Flanagan encouraged Japanese Americans who escaped forced incarceration to come to Boys Town for housing and jobs. In all, some 200 Japanese Americans came to Boys Town during the war.
According to an obit published in 2005 in the Los Angeles Times, one of the those was Patrick Okura, who died at the age of 93. Okura and his wife were released from imprisonment when Father Flanagan sponsored them for jobs at Boys Town. Flanagan was being both altruistic and pragmatic. The war had left his orphanage short of hired help. Japanese Americans helped him fill that gap.
“He was making an offer to help us while everyone else was trying to hide us,” Okura told the Omaha World Herald in 1997. “Father Flanagan was a saint.”
Some Japanese American families remain in Omaha and have fond memories of what Father Flanagan did for them.
“I see no disaster threatening us because of any particular race, creed or color,” Flanagan once said . “But I do see danger for all in an ideology which discriminates against anyone politically or economically because he or she was born into the ‘wrong’ race, has skin of the ‘wrong’ color or worships at the ‘wrong’ altar.”
AsAmNews has Asian America in its heart. We’re an all-volunteer effort of dedicated staff and interns. You can show your support by liking our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/asamnews, following us on Twitter, sharing our stories, interning or joining our staff.