Sunday, January 13, 2013

Fighting for Democracy: George Saito and the Japanese Internment Camps

During the 1910s and 1920s, California and several other states passed several laws, deemed Alien Land Laws, which restricted or prevented many Asians from owning agricultural land.  In many ways, they were treated as second-class citizens. 

When the U.S. entered World War II, after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, over 100,000 Japanese and Japanese-American families were forced to relocate to internment camps located in the west.  These families often lived in bare-minimum conditions, and many people lost personal property due to their move.

Surrounded by barbed wire and armed guards, half of the residents in the internment camps were children who would later grow up bearing the emotional and psychological scars of being removed from their previous homes.

Were you aware that this happened?

What do you think about the statistic that 100,000 people were forcibly moved during the 20th century?

Residents of Hollywood, California, start a campaign to push Japanese Americans out of the community, May 1923.  Courtesy of United Press International, Japanese American National Museum.

George (far right) and his two brothers
pictured at Camp Shelby Mississippi in 1944

The exhibit Fighting for Democracy features the story of George Saito, a Japanese-American born in 1918. During World War II George's family was interned in an internment camp.

In 1944, he volunteered for the 442nd Regimental Combat Team (a segregated unit), and was sent to fight on the European front. The majority of members of this regiment were born in the U.S. to Japanese parents, and they had one of the most impressive records of World War II.  

To learn how George's story ends and what it reveals about who is the "We" in "We the people," come view the exhibit Fighting for Democracy at Levine Museum of the New South from January 19th - July 14th, 2013.

What do you think about the fact that George was fighting for a country that was restricting members of his own family just because of their ethnic background?

No comments:

Post a Comment