Friday, February 19, 2016

Japanese American Day of Remembrance, 2016 (and unintended consequences)

Serendipity is an interesting thing. As noted in last night's post, a Minneapolis paper just ran an editorial about plans to restore historic early nineteenth-century Fort Snelling. Stressing the opportunity that the site provided to teach residents about later history with relevance to the present, the article observed inter alia: "For example, the fort’s use as an intelligence training center for Japanese-American troops during World War II led to the state’s first sizable Japanese-American settlement." The situation was similar in neighboring Wisconsin where, for example, the capital city of Madison had only one Japanese-American family until the war. And here's another connection: after we moved from the Twin Cities area to Madison, I went to school with the daughter of one of the soldiers who had received his intelligence training at Fort Snelling.

Today is the anniversary of notorious Executive Order 9066 of 1942, which mandated the internment of not only Japanese enemy aliens but also Japanese-American citizens. Although, on what has become Japanese American Day of Remembrance, we rightly stress the injustice of that act, the Minneapolis news story reminds us that the wartime experience of the Japanese American population proved in the long run to be transformative in more ways than one.

This 1942 book epitomized the atmosphere that led to the internment order.

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Past stories on the Interment and Japanese American Day of Remembrance.

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