Feb 18th Monday, 2019 — The Day of Remembrance (DOR) was created as an annual observance of Executive Order 9066, signed by Franklin D. Roosevelt on February 19, 1942, forcing all persons of Japanese ancestry on the West Coast to leave their homes for confinement in inland detention camps. During the period from 1942 to 1946, some 77,000 American-born citizens (Nisei) and 45,000 Japanese nationals, most of whom were permanent U.S. residents (Issei), were deprived of liberty and property without criminal charges or trial. The Minidoka Internment Center was home to about 10,000 people of Japanese ancestry – many of whom later settled in the Boise Valley.
This year marks the 77th anniversary of Executive Order 9066. The first DOR in Idaho was held in 2002. Each year, the Governor’s office has been most gracious and accommodating as former internees, students, educators and lawmakers have observed and participated in the ceremony. Governor Brad Little presided over the ceremony with comments from Katie Niemann, President of the Boise Valley Japanese American Citizens League; Wade Vagias, Superintendent of the National Park Service (Minidoka Internment National Historic Site); and Cheryl Oestreicher, Head, Special Collections and Archives at Boise State University. Cheryl oversees the Dr. Robert Sims collection on Minidoka and Japanese Americans in Idaho.
Proclamation remembers Idaho internment camp prisoners
BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Idaho Gov. Brad Little on Monday issued a proclamation to recognize and remember the people of Japanese ancestry imprisoned at the Minidoka internment camp in south-central Idaho during WWII.
Little signed the proclamation in the governor’s ceremonial office in the Statehouse with a former prisoner from the Minidoka camp in the audience.
Ninety-three-old Sadami Tanabe lived at the camp in the 1940s after being relocated with his parents and three siblings from Oregon when he was 16. It was part of the federal government’s plan to remove people of Japanese ancestry from the West Coast.
“I was just a kid,” Tanabe said after the signing ceremony concluded. “I guess they had to do it — the evacuation. I don’t know the right or wrong on that issue. I was there for three years at Minidoka.”
Starting in 1942, when the U.S. was at war with Japan, around 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry were ordered by the U.S. government into prison camps around the country. The camp in Idaho housed more than 9,000 people. It’s now the Minidoka National Historic Site managed by the National Park Service.
“The Japanese American community has been such an integral part of the state of Idaho for a long time,” Little said after signing the document and giving the pen to Tanabe. “We need to remind ourselves of a time when they were really resented, and bad things happened, and that’s why we do this.”
During his time at the Minidoka prison camp, Tanabe made model airplanes. Sometimes the model planes flew outside the barbed wire and guards allowed Tanabe to retrieve them.
Tanabe’s family lost most of their belongings and their orchard in Oregon while being held in Minidoka. After the war, Tanabe continued making model airplanes, and moved to the Midwest where he won competitions with them.
He returned to Boise in 1949 and eventually got a job with St. Alphonsus hospital in Boise as a janitor, but transitioned to biomedical equipment tech with his mechanical skills. He continued making model airplanes.
“It was a hard time trying to make a living,” said Tanabe, who attended the signing ceremony with his daughter. “Even here in Idaho after the war.”
The National Park Service has asked Tanabe to make a replica of model planes he made while being held in Minidoka. Officials say they would like to display the plane at the historic site’s visitor center that’s planned to have a grand opening this summer.
“It’s important we remember these things,” Little said. “Most people in Idaho think we’re exempt because of where we are — isolated. But we’re not, and this is a good example.”
Read original article in AP News
Day of Remembrance
February 19th is a significant date for the Japanese American community. On this day in 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which gave the U.S. Army the authority to remove civilians from the military zones established in Washington, Oregon, and California during WWII. This led to the forced removal and incarceration of some 120,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry living on the West Coast, who had to abandon their jobs, their homes, and their lives to be sent to one of ten concentration camps scattered in desolate, remote regions of the country.
No Japanese Americans were ever charged, much less convicted, of espionage or sabotage against the United States. Yet they were targeted, rounded up, and imprisoned for years, simply for having the “face of the enemy.”
Every February, the Japanese American community commemorates Executive Order 9066 as a reminder of the impact the incarceration experience has had on our families, our community, and our country. It is an opportunity to educate others on the fragility of civil liberties in times of crisis, and the importance of remaining vigilant in protecting the rights and freedoms of all.