Today is a solemn occasion for the Japanese American community. It is Remembrance Day, marking the anniversary of FDR’s Executive Order 9066, signed in 1942, which set into motion the internment of 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry, two-thirds of whom were U.S. citizens.
My own family and I were taken from our home in LA at gunpoint and eventually sent to two different barbed wire-enclosed camps, first in the swamps of Arkansas and next in the desolate and barren wastes of Northern California. We would spend four years in captivity, held without charge or trial, simply because we happened to look like the people who had bombed Pearl Harbor.
It is important to note that FDR was a Democrat, and that grave injustice is the province of no particular political party. It can sweep over anation like a bitter and divisive wind—fed by fear, opportunistic politicians, and misinformation.
It has been my life-long mission to ensure that something like this never happens to anyone or any group again. But it takes all of us to become educated about the dangers of bigotry, ignorance and hatred. We must learn from our past so as never to repeat it. This lesson is more vital today than ever.