I am now 76 years old but remember the days of internment beginning when I was 10 ["Journey Into a Dark Past," May 19].
Japanese-Americans never had it all until the 1960s. Housing, jobs, and loans and service were not our due for many years after World War II. My mother told my younger sister and me not to tell people where we had been for three years. The camps were demolished quickly and secretly. Returnees were housed in Buddhist and Christian churches. Our parents took menial jobs that others did not want. Thank you for telling about the internment. It hurts [to read], but it's necessary.
Kay Kakimoto Willis
Santa Barbara, Calif.
I lived through this time, albeit as a kid, and i believe fear was the real reason for the Japanese internment, not prejudice. Pearl Harbor was a surprise attack, and plenty of Japanese were willing to be kamikaze pilots sacrificing their lives. Who could be trusted? Doesn't this sound a lot like 9/11 and suicide bombers?
I was surprised to find that your article on the Japanese internment camps of World War ii included no mention of why they were actually set up. In the months leading up to the Pearl Harbor attack, the United States had been successively breaking the Japanese codes (my father was one of the World War II code breakers/interpreters). Though the reading of those messages was far from perfect or complete by Dec. 7, 1941, the code breakers knew enough to be pretty certain that the Japanese had been setting up fifth column organizations [Japanese sympathizers within the United States]. In the days following the Pearl Harbor attack, there wasn't the luxury of interviewing each person of Japanese extraction. It is easy, now, to sit back and criticize decisions made by those charged with making them without a crystal ball, but this was certainly the correct decision with the information on hand at the time.
Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif.
When I was a child in northwest Wyoming, my dad and I often drove past Heart Mountain. My dad told me about the Americans of Japanese descent who were held there. He also told me that there were German prisoners of war in Wyoming who were on work release to help out on Wyoming farms and ranches. I never did understand how anyone could justify having Americans in confinement and prisoners of war free to move about.
I soldiered with several nisei Japanese-Americans in 1943 and 1944 at Camp Grant in Rockford, Ill. We were medics in a dispensary. They were fine, disciplined soldiers, and I learned a lot from them. Some of these patriotic men died in Italy in the 442nd Regiment. Most of them had relatives and friends in those terrible camps.
This shameful chapter in american history resonates deeply with me since, starting in 1978, the American Jewish Committee had the privilege of working as the first national organization to partner with John Tateishi, who directed the Redress Program for the Japanese American Citizens League. Over several years, I witnessed Tateishi's heroic dedication to those who suffered in this brutal upheaval. He gave inspiration to our efforts to obtain modest compensation for them.
Ernest H. Weiner