Day of Remembrance

Post written by Erin Sato, Assistant Archivist at Go For Broke National Education Center

February 19th, 1942 commemorates the Day of Remembrance, when President Franklin Delano Roosevelt enacted Executive Order 9066, which called for the forced removal and incarceration of Americans of Japanese ancestry during World War II. This day changed the lives of thousands of Issei and Nisei living on the West Coast, for they had to pack up whatever belongings they could carry and move into various incarceration facilities located in California, Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming, Arkansas, Idaho, and Utah. About two thirds of those forcibly removed from their homes were American citizens, who had shown no signs of disloyalty to the United States.

My friends and I passed by the historic site of Manzanar Incarceration Camp driving home from Mammoth last Sunday. Although we did not stop for a visit, I could see the stand-alone barracks, a guard tower, and the remnants of a basketball court – it was hard to miss among the barren landscape. In that moment I thought to myself, “Could I have endured life in an incarceration camp?” It was hard to imagine what it must have been like to live within the cramped quarters of the barracks, eating in a crowded mess hall, and showering in a communal bathroom with little to no privacy. But what disturbed me the most was the fact that it was the American government who had forced Japanese Americans, like myself, to live in those conditions in the first place.

Then I began to think about the brave men who volunteered from those camps to serve in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team/100th Infantry Battalion and the Military Intelligence Service. They were able to overcome the hardships that were imposed on them and perform incredible feats overseas, earning numerous awards, commendations, and accolades for their bravery and acts of heroism during the course of the war. They showed incredible resilience amidst oppression, fighting to prove their loyalty to the same government who incarcerated their families. To me, the Day of Remembrance not only signifies the day that the American government committed a heinous injustice against the Japanese American community, it helped rally the Nisei men and fueled their famous “Go For Broke” attitude.

Never forget.



What makes a hero?

Post written by Chris Brusatte, Exhibit Manager at Go For Broke National Education Center

Why do I love our archives so much?  Because the photographs and oral histories remind me that these heroes of World War II were still ordinary people just like all of us.  Yes, they faced bullets and prejudice, and their courage and accomplishments will always dwarf mine.  But they were also ordinary young men and women with ordinary lives, ordinary habits, ordinary families and friends, and ordinary feelings that are common to us all.  They were human, and by knowing that they were human, it makes their heroics that much more impressive.

Check out this picture below, straight from our archives.  It was donated to us by Hiroshi Mizuki.  The photo shows Dick Narasaki, Frank Ichimoto, and Joe Nagata at Pen Beach in Livorno, Italy.  In their smiles, casual glances, and relaxed postures, they are like any young men enjoying a day at the beach.  There is little in the picture, other than Army-issued clothing, to suggest that they are in the middle of a war.

For Chris Blog 9

So what is the big message?  That even heroes are just ordinary people like you and me, and that ordinary people like you and me can become heroes.  It takes remarkable courage, integrity, sacrifice, and compassion, but it is possible.  Superheroes do not need capes and x-ray vision.  Just like these young men at the beach, heroes just need to step up with courage when people depend on them.