On Feb. 19, 1942, President Frank­lin Delano Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 that authorized the Japanese American internment during World War II. On Saturday, the Japanese American National Museum held the 21st annual Day of Remembrance event that commemorates the signing of that document.
Like previous years, this event was not only about the Japanese American experience, it also focused on the topic of immigration, an issue pertinent to many, as evidenced by the attendance of members of several different ethnic communities.
The rollercoaster of emotions induced by the event was palpable. Looks of reflection and understanding were clear on the faces of the older members of the audience and younger generations showed an air of solem­nity and respect. JANM President and CEO, Akemi Kikumura Yano, said, “[This event] is about learning from the past to inform the future. This could happen to anyone.”
It began with a brief introduction and history of the internment and campaign for redress, followed by the presentation of the NCRR Fighting Spirit Award to Lillian Nakano. Unfortunately, she was unable to attend due to a recent operation and her family accepted the award on her behalf.
The presentation was followed by the keynote address, given by Professor Roger Daniels, the Charles Phelps Taft Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Cincinnati. He of­fered an in-depth history of the Japanese American internment, including the Issei and Nisei experience, the aftermath following their release, and the efforts of subsequent genera­tions in the campaign for redress. He also addressed the parallel events that followed the internment that affected other ethnic groups in times of “internal security emergencies.” The atmosphere was solemn during his address, and was a time of reflection for some in the audience during this historical recount.
A series of special performances featured a short film, a collection of personal stories from recent immigrants and those with experiences related to the internment, and a potent performance by hip-hop artist Prophet.
Several organizations from the Southern California area were also present; the Campaign for Justice, rep­resenting the Japanese Latin American campaign for Redress; UCLA CAPSA and UCLA IDEAS for the DREAM Act campaign; and the Council on American-Islamic Relations for the Muslim American community. The Southern California Executive Director of CAIR, Hussam Ayloush, delivered a moving thanks for the support the Japanese American community had shown in the aftermath of 9/11. (MORE)