By: Sam Harper
Recently in English class, we talked about WWII, for a book called "The Diary of Anne Frank". So many unjust, awful things happened in that time of war. Though America helping in WW2, with good intentions, The United States of America hasn’t always made the right choices. Sometimes these decisions are stupid or even cruel. The importance of accepting these mistakes and learning from them is crucial. Especially with the confusion and problems in today's society. This article is not intended to make any race, person, or the whole USA look bad. It's just to inform. As humanity, we've done some awful things and we need to learn from them NOW before anyone else gets hurt. Hopefully, from this, you’ll see things from a new and different perspective.
Soon after the awful events of Pearl Harbor, Japanese Americans were seen as possible spies and even dangerous. “As of 1941, Japanese American communities had been growing in the US for over fifty years. About one-third of them were immigrants, many of whom settled on the West Coast and lived there for decades. The rest were born American citizens,” Ted-Ed stated. People become judgmental, rude and racist to the Japanese citizens in the days and weeks following the Pearl Harbor attack. The government had no idea if there were actual spies and dangerous people in the country. So they made the unlawful decision to put these innocent immigrants and citizens in Internment Camps. They were forced to leave their homes behind to rot or be stolen, They were forced to live in makeshift homes that were once animal stables. Their new “community” was surrounded by barbed wire, outposts, and guards.
Though their new “homes” were nothing like Concentration camps, though there was no torture, starvation, and cultural eradication, things weren’t pretty at all. Sanitation was poor and medicine supplies were short. Though they had such poor living conditions, they tried to make their new lives as normal as possible. They assigned jobs, sorta had politics and even built churches.
Nevertheless, life was hard and people did die from sickness and injuries. They were there in their internment camps for the whole war. When the war was over in 1945 and they were released, most of their homes were gone or someone else was living in it. The last camp ended in 1946. It wasn’t until 1976 when Congress finally apologized for what they did. “Congress issued a formal apology and passed the Civil Liberties Act awarding $20,000 each to over 80,000 Japanese Americans as reparations for their treatment” according to www.history.com.
Our own school resource officer, Officer Kamachi, had grandparents that lived in these internment camps during WW2. Officer Kamachi says he didn't even know about this until he was an adult, and his parents didn't talk about it much. When he did ask them about it, they told him that the government had taken their farm and their house and sent them to live at an internment camp in northern Idaho. He said after the war, they were given back their house, but the government kept their land. When he asked them if it made them mad, they answered, "We were just so wanting to be considered American citizens. We didn't want to complain about it. We just figured, 'We started over once. We can do it again.'" His family went on to start the famous Chiz's restaurant in St. Anthony.
What we can learn from this? We can learn that America is a great country, but we are not without our own mistakes. We can learn not to be judgmental. Because of our racism and awful judgment, almost 120,000 innocent people had to suffer for nothing. If this was taken from a different approach, so many peoples’ lives would be normal (if you don't count the war). I understand the president had to deal and think about the war at hand, but that is no excuse for what happened to the Japanese Americans.