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In Response to Olsen ....

Reader comment on item: Why the Japanese Internment Still Matters

Submitted by Emily (United States), Nov 18, 2005 at 01:54

I am a recent graduate of Bainbridge High School. I have lived on the Island since the third grade. I am now attending Western Washington University and am currently taking an excellent history class where we are discussing the internment of the Japanese; a subject I am familiar with coming from Bainbridge Island and having the WONDERFUL opportunity of going through the curriculum the school district has set forth. I am now writing a final paper about the internment to the camps from Bainbridge Island and my position is that it was un-American to send our Japanese Americans away.

I believe you are wrong when you say that teaching this subject is un-American. What happened in 1942 when Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066 was un-American. Telling a group of people that they must relocate based on their race is un-American. Stripping them of their possessions, their property, and their lives- that is un-American. And you sir, are wrong to assume that the curriculum teaches the children a myth, as you call it.

We were told that it was relocation; that they could be transferred. Although, I'm not sure what the incentive in transferring would be, all the camps were camps; call it something more pleasant if you wish, but a group of people ordered together within a confined space sounds like a concentration camp to me. We were told that the men, in particular the 18-23 year old boys, could leave the camp if they joined the segregated army and fought in the European Theatre. We were told that essentially the idea was that they would come back to their homes after the "danger had passed." The sad reality is of course, that this did not happen. Because of the amount of time our Japanese American neighbors from the island had to remain in the concentration camps they did not all have the opportunity to come home. On the minimal pay they received I would like to point out that if you were in that situation today you would not have the money the get you and your entire family home again on the ferry.

To even consider removing this from the curriculum is absurd and I know I am replying to an old post of yours but it saddened and angered me to find your post online while doing research for my paper and I am shocked and offended that you would even consider depriving the incredible students of Bainbridge the opportunity of learning about this important part of American history.
Thank you.
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