"The word is Gaman in Japanese. It means to persevere, make the best of any situation. and that's what we did," said Mary Kinoshita (Poston 6-4-CD). She and her family had no choice but to survive after being sent to an internment camp.
They understood it was war time, but they were moved from their family home in Bakersfield to a dusty tent with a wood plank floor they called an apartment. "As the wood dried, it shrunk. And a result the dust was coming up. My mother and I looked at each other and just fell down and we started to cry," adds Kinoshita.
Her dad was born in Japan and moved here when he was 17. He was considered an alien resident, but he and his family were separated as they were sent off to camps.
But in 1989, President George H.W. Bush signed an appropriation bill authorizing $20,000 payments to all Japanese who were interned and sent out a letter apologizing for what happened.
And Tuesday, 90-year-old Mary Kinoshita told her story, enabling teachers in Kern County to pass it to students. "So here we are here taking these classes studying history. Mary was able to come in and take a national abstract historical even to something very concrete. It happened here it took place here, and it's very important to understand that. This is an event that happened once before and it could happen again," says Ken Hooper, Kern County historical society.
And getting speakers who lived the history gives teachers an account that can't be taught from a history book.
In 1952 Kinoshita's father was granted citizenship, something he wanted his entire life. His sons have all since served as officers in the US military.