Museum also displays ugly part of history

November 11, 2009

      History can be quite nostalgic.  Nori Hashimoto (Poston internment camp block 305-9-CD) remembers living along the Colorado River in Arizona in the early 40’s. He recalls seeing wild horses run through the trees near the river. “I was eight years old. It was play time for me,” he said.
      At the time he was living in a Japanese Internment camp during WWII, a part of American History most would prefer to forget. Hashimoto’s older sister, for example, was devastated by the time she spent in camp.
      “Every time anyone brought it up, she would hate it,” Hashimoto said.
      The Reedley Historical Museum has a Rotating Exhibit Room, which contains a Japanese relocation display. During WWII many Japanese people were uprooted from their homes and ranches, and put into one of 20+ Relocation camps.

      The museum has some historical documented stories with a chronology of Japanese history and ancestry written in several booklets.
      Also on display are works of art created by artists while during their time in the various relocation camps. These include carved birds and animals, shell necklaces, hair combs and jewelry. The pieces display the unique colors, designs and creativity of the Japanese Americans during a dark time.
      Hashimoto remembers his family making the same types of pieces on display at the museum.
      The display, however, was donated by Florence (Arnheimer) Gomez, who taught at the Tule Lake camp in Northern California.
      The Reedley Museum is located under the twin water towers. The museum is open Tuesdays and Saturdays from 10 am to noon. For tour information, call 638-1913.
Source: http://www.reedleyexponent.com/articles/2009/11/11/community/doc4af49e171e352525402068.txt


Internment and the forgetful U.S. Senate

S. Floyd Mori: Internment specter raises ugly head in forgetful U.S. Senate
By S. Floyd Mori
Special to the Mercury News
S. Floyd Mori
Posted: 11/27/2011
      The oldest generation of Japanese-Americans, those whose earliest memories were of their lives and families being upended by internment without charge or trial in concentration camps during World War II, at least take comfort in the hope that America is now committed to never inflicting that experience on any other group of Americans or immigrants. But our trust in that commitment is being shaken by a bill poised to go to the Senate floor that could once again authorize indefinite detention without charge of American citizens and others now living peacefully in our country.
     We have reason to believe in the commitment of Americans to say never again to indefinite detention. In 1988, the Civil Liberties Act officially declared that the Japanese-American internment had been a "grave injustice" that had been "carried out without adequate security reasons." In other words, the indefinite detention of Japanese-Americans during World War II was not only wrong, but unnecessary.
     A bill on the Senate floor raises the question of whether the Senate has forgotten our history. S. 1253, the National Defense Authorization Act, has a provision in it, unfortunately drafted by Sens. Carl Levin, D-Mich., and John McCain, R-Ariz., that would let any U.S. president use the military to arrest and imprison without charge or trial anyone suspected of having any relationship with a terrorist organization.   
     Although Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and more than a dozen of her colleagues are bravely calling for a halt to a damaging bill, they face significant opposition.
     The troubling provision, Section 1031, would let the military lock up both Americans and noncitizens in the 50 states. There would be no charges, no trial, no proof beyond a reasonable doubt. All that would be required would be suspicion.
     Although the details of the indefinite detentions of Japanese-Americans during World War II and the proposed indefinite detentions of terrorism suspects may differ, the principle remains the same: Indefinite detentions based on fear-driven and unlawfully substantiated national security grounds, where individuals are neither duly charged nor fairly tried, violate the essence of U.S. law and the most fundamental values upon which this country was built.
     As the measures to indefinitely detain Japanese-Americans during World War II have been deemed a colossal wrong, the same should be true of modern indefinite detention of terrorism suspects. Our criminal justice system is more than equipped to ensure justice and security in terrorism cases, and we certainly should not design new systems to resurrect and codify tragic and illegitimate policies of the past.
     As our history shows, acting on fear in these situations can lead to unnecessary and unfruitful sacrifices of the most basic of American values. In the 10 years since the 9/11 attacks, Congress has shown admirable restraint in not enacting indefinite detention without charge or trial legislation. Now with the president seeking to end the current wars, the Senate must avoid repeating the mistakes of the past and protect American values before they are compromised. We cannot let fear overshadow our commitment to our most basic American values.
     The Senate can show that it has not forgotten the lessons of the Japanese-American internment. It should pass an amendment that has been offered by Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., that would remove Section 1031 from the act. This Senate should not stain that great body by bringing to the floor any detention provision that would surely be looked upon with shame and regret by future generations.

 S. Floyd Mori is national executive director of the Japanese American Citizens League. He wrote this for this newspaper.



Fighting for the right to fight

A Nisei Veteran recognized for uncommon courage

By Matthew Renda, Staff Writer 

Photo by John Hart

Mas Tsuda
November 22, 2011
     Imagine being displaced from your home and your community by your own native country, based upon your race and ethnicity.
     Imagine being placed in a prison camp, restricted to a rough postage stamp of land with guns pointed at you, preventing your coming and going.
     Then imagine sacrificing everything for the very nation that robbed you of your fundamental rights. Imagine laying your life on the line so that nation may continue to exist.
     This is exactly what Nisei Veterans, like 87-year-old Mas Tsuda (Poston 219-7-B) of Alta Sierra did once upon a difficult and harrowing time. During World War II, many Japanese Americans were forcibly interned in camps throughout the western United States, after Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 on Feb. 19, 1942. 
   In early 1943, select males from the camps were chosen and "allowed" to fight in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, a self-sufficient unit in the United States Army. The regiment was dispatched to Europe in 1943 and fought with uncommon distinction mostly in Southern Europe. However, many of the Japanese-American soldiers returned to a country slow to accept their contributions due to lingering bigotry.
     The 442nd is the most highly-decorated regiment in the history of the United States armed forces with 21 Medal of Honor recipients and a slew of other distinctions too numerous to list.
     Tsuda, who was set to be awarded with a Congressional Gold Medal on Nov. 2 by the U.S. Congress, but could not attend the ceremony due to a family illness, fought in Italy and Southern France as a member of the 442nd. A Japanese-American, Tsuda was born and raised in the agricultural pastures of Watsonville, Calif. He grew up with traditional Japanese parents, as his father was persistently after Tsuda to learn the Japanese language; nevertheless, Tsuda identified with America's cultural values.

     So much so, that in 1941, in the days immediately after Pearl Harbor, Tsuda attempted to enlist at the age of 16 with a couple of his schoolmates, he said, but was informed that children of Japanese and Chinese immigrants were ineligible.

Undeterred by internment...
     Soon after, government officials began rounding up citizens of Asian descent and placing them in temporary and permanent internment camps, hastily built in desolate, unpopulated areas. Tsuda, along with the rest of his family, was sent to a temporary holding facility in Salinas, Calif., before relocation to an Arizona internment camp.[ Poston 219-7-B]
     A senior in high school at the time, Tsuda said he remembers the ordeal as an adventure, whereas his parents and members of their generation struggled mightily.
     "We were young," he said. "My friends and I, we would sneak out and walk to the Colorado River which was only four miles away. We would play in the river, chase the wild horses and then come back before night.
     "The old men and women, though, they were miserable," he said.
     Tsuda rejects the notion that Japanese-Americans were placed in those camps for their own protection.
     "The guns were pointed at us and the sentry towers were not there to keep people out," he said. "They were there to keep us in."
     All the while, Tsuda remained hungry to join the United States armed forces and contribute to the war effort that was rapidly gaining force.
     "We were citizens," he said. "We wanted to fight for our country like everyone else our age. We wanted to serve and prove we were Americans — prove our loyalty."
     In 1943, Tsuda was finally afforded the opportunity to demonstrate his loyalty, as a combat team was formed within the internment camp and training commenced. Soon after, he and other young men were deployed to Hattiesburg, Miss., for sanctioned military training. The famed 442nd Regimental Combat Team was born. The commissioned officers were Caucasian, but treated the young men as soldiers, Tsuda said, and did indulge in bigotry.
     "They were good at what they did," he said. "They wanted us to succeed."

A chance to serve...
     After proceeding through basic training at an accelerated pace, Tsuda's regiment was deployed to the European theater.
     "We landed on the bottom of Italy's boot and walked up north," Tsuda said. "For a while, it was easy. We had better weapons, better air support and more ammunition and the Germans gave up easily. But one day they mounted a counterattack and, boy, did we get beat up. The Germans were good soldiers and we found out."
     Tsuda was in Southern Europe for 18 months engaging in various encounters with the enemy while battling the elements of a foreign territory.
     "I don't think I'll ever get that scared again," Tsuda said. "In the wintertime (of '43) it was so cold. There was snow on the ground and we didn't have the right clothing. There was always rain and we were fighting in the frost."
     After Rome fell into American hands there was a brief respite from battle, he said. However, the lull did not last long as the 442nd was soon sent to Southern France in August of 1944 where mayhem and destruction lurked for the American forces.
     As they marched north, the 442nd liberated the town of Bruyeres in the Vosges Mountains. The same regiment also rescued the "Lost Battalion", the 141st Regiment comprised mostly of boys from Texas, who had inadvertently become trapped behind German lines about two miles east of Biffontaine. The rescue mission was brutal, he said, featuring some of the heaviest resistance the 442nd faced and resulted in massive casualties for the 442nd (some historians believe this to be due to the command ineptitude of John Ernest Dahlquist, who was criticized by other officers for his blatant disregard for the lives of the Japanese-American soldiers). Tsuda, earned a Purple Heart during this period.
     "I got in the way of a mortar and got some shrapnel all over," he said. "I still carry it around with me. We had a helluva lot of casualties. We were called the Purple Heart battalion."
     Tsuda still has his Purple Heart alongside other medals arrayed in a display case, positioned unostentatiously in his home.
     "I proved my loyalty," he said, proudly. "I proved I was an American."

Back home...
     Tsuda came back to America, met his wife, Ann, at night school and became a landscape contractor in San Mateo County. He said his standing improved in society as a result of his service, but he still encountered instances of bigotry that left a bitter aftertaste.
     One day, soon after he returned to California from the war, he and his brother-in-law stopped at a gas station just outside of Watsonville and were denied gas, despite having the cash to pay for it. Tsuda told other veterans in the area about the incident, complaining that the gas station owners had not served in the war and made the same sacrifice he had made.
     "People boycotted that gas station and they went out of business," he said. "I still hold it. It bothers you. I got mad at those guys. I don't like being ignored. People pretend they can see right through you."
     Mas and Ann Tsuda live in Alta Sierra, having moved to western Nevada County in 1988, after Mas retired from his landscaping business. He tries to reunite with other Nisei Veterans every year and stays in contact with many of his fellow regimental members.
     Despite encountering instances of racism sporadically during his civilian life, Tsuda said he remains extremely proud to have served his country.
     "When I went to Japan as tourist, I did not feel Japanese," he said. "I felt like an American and I am proud of it."

Source: http://www.theunion.com/article/20111122/NEWS/111129974/1001&parentprofile=10533


Destroyed building part of WWII history

Apr 12, 2011
     Police Chief Rod Mendoza tells Parker Live that the buildings at the center of drama yesterday – razed by fire departments after the discovery of old dynamite inside – were historical buildings from Poston Internment Camp, a U.S. camp for the Japanese during World War II.
     It was originally thought that the dynamite was found at Alewine Furniture Store, but it turned out to be a row of buildings (pictured) next to the store on the same property parcel. The old furniture store remains intact.
     Mendoza says the building was destroyed by fire last night in order to burn the dynamite in place, due to the dynamite being judged too unstable to move. The building was the old ‘Mess Hall’ or ‘Chow Hall’ from the Internment Camp.

     He said the speculation is that the family did some of the construction on Highway 95 toward Lake Havasu City and would have used the dynamite during the process. While previously reported that the dynamite was manufactured in 1990, making it around 21 years old, it is now being reported that the dynamite had an expiration date of 1990, making it much older.
     The entire incident lasted for over 10 hours. Mendoza complimented the community of Parker, saying that they responded appropriately and were very courteous to law enforcement.  The evacuation was expanded after it was discovered the dynamite could not be moved and would need incinerated, posing a greater risk to the surrounding area, and Mendoza says everybody evacuated voluntarily and stayed behind police lines.
     The recovered blasting caps were destroyed by explosion in the open desert by some fire personnel.
Source: http://www.parkerliveonline.com/2011/04/13/destroyed-building-wwii/