Written by Gerald Boerner
Again the temps here in River City dipped close to freezing. In our neighborhood, the low was about 36 degrees, but at the nearby March Reserve Air Force Base, they apparently dipped down into the mid 20s. That’s cold! Today, we are expecting a high of about 63, a full ten degrees less than yesterday. We are also going to have the rain clouds roll in. Tonight the low is supposed to get down to 37 here.
What’s more, there is a rain storm heading our way. It’s supposed to hit us after midnight. The weather people predict that this will be a real “soaker”; the low will sit off the coast where it can pick up water from the sea and drop it in the LA Basic. The recent showers have only been enough to get us a little wet. But this storm could deliver over an inch of rain. The local mountains, like Big Bear and Lake Arrowhead, will get up to sixteen inches of fresh snow to go with their man-made snow. The skiers and snowboarders should be thrilled. BTW, for those of you in the mid-west who see “real” snow storms, this may seem strange, but here in SoCal the mountain resorts depend on man-made snow more than that delivered by Mother Nature!
I look forward to seeing some great snow-capped mountains throughout the San Gabriel and San Bernardino ranges on Tuesday morning. I want to get out and get some photos of that scene. If I do, I’ll be posting them on my page. In the meantime, we have prepared the back yard for the coming storm. My old scooter is under cover of both the patio and a tarp. The furniture has been repositioned so as to be out of the rain. Bring it on.
But we are more fortunate than those who live in the areas of the San Gabriel Valley hit so hard by the winds a week ago. Most of them have now had their electricity restored and they are no longer freezing (figuratively, at least) in their homes. The downed trees have been, by and large, removed from their cars, houses and power lines. But the city workers have piled up the cut limbs along roadways awaiting later pickup by city crews.
Some of it could be used as firewood, of course, but much of it comes from trees that are not very good for burning in family fireplaces. Therefore, they sit along the roads along with the debris from the cutting process — sawdust, small branches, leaves, etc. These will be swept into the storm drains and catch basins during a heavy rain such as we’re expecting tonight and tomorrow. So, let’s just hope that the city crews can get things cleaned up enough to avoid flooding those residents hit so hard by the initial wind damage. Let’s all keep them in our prayers… GLB
These Introductory Comments are copyrighted:
Copyright©2011 — Gerald Boerner — All Rights Reserved
[ 1898 Words ]
Quotations Related to Internment (Camps):
“You know, I grew up in two American internment camps, and at that time I was very young.”
— George Takei
“I was six months old at the time that I was taken, with my mother and father, from Sacramento, California, and placed in internment camps in the United States.”
— Robert Matsui
“February 19, 1942, is the year in which Executive Order 9066 was signed, and this was the order that called for the exclusion and internment of all Japanese Americans living on the west coast during World War II.”
— Xavier Becerra
“I spent my boyhood behind the barbed wire fences of American internment camps and that part of my life is something that I wanted to share with more people.”
— George Takei
Today we are attending to one of the aftermath effects of the Pearl Harbor attack that is not among America’s Proudest Moments: The Imprisonment of Japanese-American citizens because of their ethnic heritage. The were removed from their communities, sent to the desert, and punished for their genetics. For a first-hand photographic account of their plight, see Ansel Adams, Born Free and Equal: The Story of Loyal Japanese Americans (1893343057)
Thinking about the Japanese American Internment Camps…
But on to the primary focus of the day. Over the last several days we have discussed the reaction of FDR and the Congress to the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. A formal declaration of war was issued on the eighth and our forces were being mobilized. On this day, the eleventh, the European Axis Powers (Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy) declared war on the United States; we were finally joining the forces of Britain and the Soviets in their fight against the Axis. So, like Germany, we were embarking on a two-front war. The partial mobilization that had started as part of the Lend-Lease Act would now become a full-blown manufacturing operation that would make the difference in the war.
But today we look more specifically at the racist and discriminatory treatment directed at the Japanese American population, especially those living along the Pacific Coast. Some of the consequences of the Pearl Harbor damage came about because of the fear that the Japanese population on the Hawaiian Islands were committed to the Japanese Empire and its Emperor, Hirohito. While some of the approximately 150,000 Japanese living on the islands were no doubt spies for the Japanese military, most were American citizens loyal to their adopted country. Many were born in the U.S., the nisei (first generation) or sansei (second generation) individuals. A few were issei, those not born in this country and ineligible for U.S. citizenship.
The ships in Pearl Harbor and the planes at the various air bases, such as Hickam Field, were tightly paced for security from feared attacks by Japanese saboteurs. These attacks were not expected were expected from Japanese residents of the Hawaiian Islands, not from planes coming in from into the Pearl Harbor from aircraft carriers off the north coast of Hawaii. Because the threat was expected from within, so the ships were clustered around Ford Island in Pearl and the aircraft on the Army Air Force bases such as Hickam Field were clustered in small groups on the field.
When the Japanese planes swept into the harbor, these tightly-packed ships and aircraft became easy targets for the bombs and torpedoes. A majority of our loses of men and equipment were due to the anticipation of the attack from Japanese saboteurs on the islands, not from four aircraft carriers that had traversed the Pacific to launch the surprise attack on that fateful Sunday morning.
Following the declaration of war against the Empire of Japan, the prejudges of the American military and civilian leaders against the Japanese population flourished among these leaders. These prejudices had been escalating, especially on the west coast, since the early 1900s. In 1905, California, the home of over 90% of the Japanese Americans, passed the “anti-miscegenation” law that outlawed the marriage between Caucasians and “Mongolians” (those from East Asia). Students in many communities like San Francisco were transferred to schools within the local Chinatown. In fact, in 1924, an “Oriental Exclusion Law” blocked Japanese immigrants from gaining U.S. citizenship. Thus, the actions at the start of our war with Japan came from a long period of resentment and discrimination against the Japanese.
Not unlike the Jews in Germany during the 1930s, the Japanese had become successful businessmen and farmers throughout California. They had become excellent farmers who out-produced their American neighbors. These American farmers welcomed the war as an opportunity to remove their Japanese American neighbors from their lands so they could take them over. In the cities, both civilian and military leaders had the same fear of Japanese sabotage as was found in pre-Pearl Harbor Hawaii. While the FBI had found little evidence of such collaboration with the Japanese forces, either via direct contact or through radio links, there was a great fear on the west coast that the Japanese could attack the coast at any moment.
This led FDR to issue Executive Order 9066 on February 19, 1942. This order created “military areas” from which any person could be excluded. These exclusion orders were upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1944. In the meantime, they were used as a pretense to remove the Japanese Americans, by force if necessary, from an area within 100 miles of the Pacific Ocean. When some voluntarily removed themselves further inland, this area was extended further. The order was used to force all Japanese, American citizens or not, to “Relocation Camps” which were generally located in interior, inhospitable regions of the west. It is interesting that while this order applied equally to the Hawaiian Islands, only about 1,500 of the Japanese population (out of 150,000) were interned in internment (“concentration”) camps. On the west coast, about 127,000 Japanese lived in the states along the Pacific Ocean. At least 50% of these were place in the Internment Camps like Manzanar in the Owens Valley of eastern California. This discrepancy reflects the discrimination against the Japanese that was rampant in California.
So much for the basic facts of the situation. Our country has had a long history of mistreatment of minority, non-Caucasian populations. We can start with the early Native American groups encountered by the early settlers, the Trail of Tears during the Indian Removal period under President Jackson, the whole slavery issue of the African American populations and, of course, the Indian Wars in the West during the post-Civil War period. The discrimination against the immigrants from Asia who came to this country to help build the railroads, work in the mines, and grow the crops in the San Joaquin Valley of California found fertile ground in California, which had the majority of these immigrants. So the assignment of the Japanese to Internment Camps was just a continuation of that pattern of discrimination against those groups who looked or acted different from the dominant population.
I called these Internment Camps “concentration” camps with intent, since that is the language used in governmental records on the process. But let us not confuse these camps with those death camps in Nazi Germany or the camps operated by the Japanese throughout their territory of East Asia. Our camps did not try to starve the occupants. They were allowed to build adequate, though not luxurious, shelters for themselves as well as cultivate the ground. But they were deprived of their civil rights, property and most of their possessions. They were falsely accused of a lack of loyalty to their adopted (or native) country. We did them a dishonor that was finally recognized by Ronald Reagan in 1988. But by then the damage had been done!
In fact, the 442nd Infantry Battalion was an all-Nisei unit who fought valiantly during World War II in Europe and became the most decorated unit in the Army. (See my blog posting about this unit at: http://www.boerner.net/jboerner/?p=20766 .) We need to take another look at this sad period of our nations history…
Photo of the Day:
Again, I want to leave you with a positive vision to carry you through the day. The photo was made by Ansel Adams at the Manzanar Internment Camp in the Owens Valley of California. This area had been a rich agricultural area before Los Angeles “stole” the water from the Owens River in the early 1900s to fuel the growth of the LA Basin. Those Japanese settled here made an adequate life for themselves until they were released at the end of the war. The valley is beautiful, but not as hospitable as those homes that they had been forced to abandon. Let us remember this sad part in our nation’s history and vow never to repeat it again…
Tom Kobayashi, Landscape, Manzanar Relocation Center, California
Photograph & Copyrighted by Ansel Adams.
Copyright©2011 • All Rights Reserved
Background information is from Wikipedia articles on:
Wikipedia: Japanese American Internment…
Prof. Boerner’s Explorations: Pearl Harbor: The Interment of the Japanese-Americans…
Brainy Quote: Internment (Camps) Quotes…