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The Japanese-American Internment Experience

With Jane Clayson in for Tom Ashbrook

A new museum in Wyoming tells the story of the thousands of Japanese-Americans imprisoned during World War Two.

A Japanese internment camp guard tower at Heart Mountain.  (National Archives)

A Japanese internment camp guard tower at Heart Mountain. (National Archives)

One of the most recognized dates in modern U.S. history is December 7, 1941: The attack on Pearl Harbor. A far lesser known date is February 14, 1942, which, for some, had equally big consequences.

On that day, President Franklin Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066. That order led to the detention of more than 100,000 Japanese-Americans in internment camps around the country, for years. One of those camps was in Heart Mountain, Wyoming. Back then, it was surrounded by barbed wire. Today, it’s a new museum.

This hour On Point: Revisiting Heart Mountain and the stories it tells.

-Jane Clayson


Shirley Ann Higuchi, chair of the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation Board of Directors.

Eric Muller, professor of Law at University of North Carolina and author of “American Inquisition: The Hunt for Japanese American Disloyalty in World War II.”

Toshi Ito, former internee at Heart Mountain in Wyoming.



PBS documentary “Conscience and the Constitution


“Silent Flight and Sleeping Dawn Heart has Asked for Pleasure” by MONO
“Don’t Fence Me In” by Ella Fitzgerald
“Blue Bicycle” by Haushka

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  • Hidan

    Very sad America would sink to such a low. One would think we have learn our lesson but with the current climax xenophobia it probably only require a major attack on the U.S. for this to happen again.

    Hope I’m wrong.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000079713373 Jeff Seelig

    I’m really happy to see this museum come to fruition. 

    We must learn from the past so that we don’t repeat our mistakes, yet the embarrassing history of our country is often missing from student’s textbooks.

  • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

    Alan Taylor at The Atlantic has been posting a large collection of documentary images of World War II including a collection of images of this stain on US history:


    Note a few of the images in this collection were done by Ansel Adams.

  • wmaher

    It’s very interesting. All these years later, the lefty-NPR crowd continues to remove FDR’s name from the most despicable domestic crime of the the previous century. Approximately 110,000 innocent American citizens are thrown into concentration camps by FDR with zero due process. Then again, the deplorable lefty public schools get an A+ for making sure this profound crime was never allowed to see the light of day in their labotomy clinics. Where was our wonderful Supreme Court to fight and stop this obscene injustice? No, you will not hear about Executive Order 9066, signed by Franklin Delano Roosevelt, that sweetheart of a man infinitely worshipped by the welfare statists. FDR should be posthumously convicted of a monstrous crime against humanity. I can’t wait to hear the excuses.

    • media_critic

      What on EARTH are you talking about?  Everyone knows that FDR was president then.  There simply is no getting around it. 
      And “lefty NPR crowd”?  I bet you cannot provide an accurate, EVIDENCE-BASED description or explanation of that term.
      There are LOTS of problems and objectionable things about NPR; but most of them relate to stupidity and ignorance, and not any sort of political orientation by NPR employees (many of whom,  in my experience, have little understanding of political matters).

    • Matteasmom107

      What an absurd comment. First of all, anyone who’s even aware that this happened knows that FDR was the president when it happened. That has hardly been hidden. Secondly, those deplorable “lefty” schools have their curriculum chosen by the local school boards, which are usually reflective of the political leaning of the district but do tend to skew republican for a variety of reasons. Finally, you are correct in that profound crimes and shamefull events have been whitewashed out of our history textbooks, but that is not a right/left phenomenon. Americans in general have a hard time facing up to the atrocities committed in their name. I don’t recall reading about the Iran Contra, or our numerous military coups and propping up of murderous dictators, our training of salvadorian death squads, etc when I was in those lefty schools either.

    • Matteasmom107

      Oh by the way, I’m listening now and they made reference to that very Executive Order 6 just minutes into the program. Time to find another strawman!

  • Yar

    Second class citizens? It was a shameful chapter in our mostly shameful history.  We never could find land poor enough to ‘give to the natives’ who we stole this land from in the first place.  Our wealth is built on the exploitation of the world and its resources.  Are illegal immigrants treated worse today than we treated Japanese-Americans during the war?  What rights do H-2A visa workers have?  They can’t travel the country freely.  They must stay on the farm that hired them except when the owner takes them to a store.    What war are we currently fighting on our own soil that requires us to intern humans for our food production?  We can’t look at our treatment of the Japanese during World War II and say we are doing better now, if anything we are treating our ‘second class citizens’ much worse.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Paolo-Caruso/1778940602 Paolo Caruso

    The internment overall seems quite civil, like the initial interment of Jews in Europe into camps with community centers, schools, pools and orchestras.

    The question is, what would have happened to the interned Japanese if America was losing the war??? 

    Imagine a situation wherein Japanese troops during WWII had crossed the Canadian border and supply lines for food and medicine were cut to the cities and especially the camps.  Sickness, starvation and maltreatment by their also sick and starving American guards???

    • Anonymous

      First off this was one of our nations darkest moments.
      Second your comment about the death camps the nazis put Jew, Slavs, Gypsies, Homosexuals, Communist, and anyone else they deemed undesirable, were never going to be how you described.
      I’m not sure where you found this information but it is wrong, period.
      The extermination of the Jews was a priority of Hitlers, to think they were going to put them into camps with schools, pools and community centers is nothing short of a lie. You need to read history buddy.

      On vour other comment about the food, well being that most of it was coming South of the Canadian border your synopses lacks credibility. The other thing you forgot is that Canada had and has a pretty large military. It’s not like the Japanese could have just strolled down from Alaska through the rugged hinterland of North West Canada.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Paolo-Caruso/1778940602 Paolo Caruso

        Hey Jeffe,  take a look at that picture of of the internment camp at Heart Mountain… look familiar???  Like the camps in Poland??

        Thats my whole point.  The Japanese internment was NOT civil, as much as
        they even today continue to present it as such.  I’ve seen the red
        cross videos of INITIAL European interment, and the kids playing and the parents
        shopping at the commissary.    The Japanese interment, as bad as it
        was, could have gone horribly ugly if the tides of war were turned,
        unthinkable as it was for America. 

        But lets discuss the “undesirables ”  as you say in Abu Graib and
        Guantanemo, and stop acting like the USA is beyond the ugly.  

        • Anonymous

          Take a look a the picture of the camps?  Like the camps in Poland? Wow. I’m not going to write the words I’m really thinking here as they would most likely get me banned. Use your imagination.

          The Red Cross films from WW2, you must be kidding. These were propaganda films made by the nazis.
          Are you really this uneducated or is this some kind of weird act?

          One thing they seem to be lacking: gas chambers and crematoriums. Other things missing, mass starvation, rampant dysentery, TB, and a host of other diseases. Also missing are torture, experimentation on inmates, slave labor, sadistic guards, to name a few. Need I go on?

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Paolo-Caruso/1778940602 Paolo Caruso

        BTW Jeffe,   the USA has had MANY MANY “dark moments”  to which the Japanese internment was surpassed by MANY MANY other nasty events:  Slavery,  Native American genocide,  Vietnam, Hiroshima, Philippines occupation,…etc….etc…

        • Anonymous

          You are a real piece of work.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Paolo-Caruso/1778940602 Paolo Caruso

            Take the blinders off Jeffe,  you’ll see so much more clearly.  If you can get past your own selfish bias.

    • TFRX


      I enjoy those alternative-history stories as much as anyone, even when they just existed on paper instead of the everything-everywhere-at-once intertubes.

      But, can I lock you and your family up, real civil-like?

      • TFRX

        I’m pretty much rescinding my comment; Paolo has fleshed out his idea, and I should have just asked for more details before snarking.

        (And once again, if someone writes an app to transmit non-verbal language, and voice tones, I will gladly buy it!)

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Paolo-Caruso/1778940602 Paolo Caruso

          Thank you TFRX.   Reasonable discourse is most rewarding.

  • Anonymous

    WBUR do not air Obama’s speech on Irene.  I’d rather listen to this program. 

  • media_critic

    Four points which may not come out during this program:

    1.  The governor of Calif. who was particularly eager to put these AMERICANS into these camps was REPUBLICAN Gov. Earl Warren–later chief justice of the Supreme Court.
    2.  At the time, even J. Edgar Hoover said these folks posed no threat to US security.  (No German-Americans were ever treated in this shabby way.)

    3.  The property of those imprisoned was in effect stolen and never restored to them.
    4.  Somehow, when conservatives talk about the threat posed to our liberties by a “powerful central government”, they NEVER mention this shameful, disgraceful part of American history.

    • Anonymous

      German Americans were victimized (to a much lesser degree) during WWI.  That bigotry helped pass Prohibition.

      • media_critic

        Everything I’ve read about prohibition says that it was mostly RURAL folks who did not like the behaviors and habits of city-dwellers and those “awful folks” (I’m being ironic)–recent immigrants who liked their alcohol, such as Italians, Irish, etc.   

        • Anonymous

          There were a number of factors.  Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition by Daniel Okrent is an interesting book on the subject.

  • Charlie mc

           After 9-11, one of the teachers at the school where I taught asked, “Why do THEY hate us so?” It is completely amazing that true history is only written by “communists” and “socialists”, since our treatment of Native Americans, Slaves, Mexican-Americans, Chinese, Puerto Ricans, Irish and any unwanted “immigrants” throughout our brief history is frequently viewed as a proper patriotic stance by whoever is here first.
           It reminds me of the Roman-Jewish-Christians who in 66-73AD were caught living in Rome during the Jewish-Roman War in Israel during the reign of Caesar Nero, whose number value in Hebrew was 666, and who had Peter and Paul executed in ca. 64AD.
           That the Gospel of Mark, the first to be written, was in all probability written to the Roman Christians in such a dire situation, makes its message most significant, i.e., full of “signs” , parables, secrets, and sensitivity to attack from both sides against the teachings of non-violence, love of enemy, etc… which this community was striving to follow.
               That our government locked up patriotic citizens of Japanese ancestry strikes me as most identical. It is quite interesting that the spread of Zen spirituality in the West has succeeded so well in the aftermath. Perhaps religion is diminishing in the world while spirituality grows.  

    • http://bookofzo.blogspot.com Joshua Hendrickson

      It seems to me that religion, in the sense of adherence to creeds and authority, is on the rise, while spirituality, in the gnostic, anti-authoritarian sense, is also on the rise but not so dramatically. Secularism is definitely on the rise, and accelerating, but may have a long time catching up to religion’s growth.

      Thanks for reminding us that the Beast 666 is really a timebound contemporary reference to the Emperor Nero and not to anything like a future antichrist.

      I have always felt some sympathy for the early persecuted Christians. It’s hard to imagine that they did anything to deserve their fates, but then they were hardly the only victims of Roman cruelty. What is tragic is how in just a few generations Christianity degenerated into a variety of mutually exclusive, intolerant, murderous, heresy-hunting, power-hungry cults. By the time Constantine took the politically expedient road of embracing Christianity, the blight had set in, and what was valuable in the Hellenistic world was being destroyed, to return only with the Renaissance.

  • Ellen Dibble

    I spent a summer transcribing interviews with Japanese who had spent the time in the internment camps for a Ph.D. dissertation by one George Tsukuda, and I’m looking for it online.  It was about the specific effects on adolescent males (old men at the time of the dissertation).  I’m finding a few cites.   Apparently lots of people studied this.

  • PaulCJr

    The guest forgot to mention that we (U.S.) also had a blockcade on Japan, which caused many japanese and japanese children to die and is the reason why the Japanese attacked the us at Pearl Harbor.

    • William

      I think you mean our refusal to sell them oil and steel due to their war against the Chinese prior to their attack on us at Pearl Harbor.

  • Ellen Dibble

    See part 4 at this link, the psychological effects.  http://janmstore.com/150099.html

    What I was seeing was established farms that had to be abandoned.  Generations of development that required people to be present to maintain self-generated “jobs,” ways of life.  And youngsters who had felt well integrated were suddenly detached.  And it made no sense; their older brother were going off to fight with and for the Americans. Fathers, especially, were grabbed away from families and put elsewhere.

  • Mike in Cambridge

    What I never hear about is the 3000 or so Japanese residents of Latin America, with no U.S. ties, who were taken from their countries and incarcerated in Crystal City, TX.  My father was left behind in Peru with his mother who had tuberculosis, where she was buried on my dad’s 10th birthday, never seeing her husband again.

    My grandfather was stripped of his passport on the way to America, and at the end of the war, received a letter stating he entered the country illegally, without proper documentation.  Peru refused to take back the working-age males after the war.  My dad grew up with no family, and was only reunited with my grandfather who was finally able to get citizenship and bring my father in as a minor dependent.  Fortunately the age of majority at the time was 21, and my father made it by weeks.

    Unfortunately, the call-screeners for the program refused to let this story be told once again, hanging up on me when I called in, saying it was a good story but they wouldn’t get to it.

    • Wallaby

      Mike in Cambridge – I would call again!

    • Mike in Cambridge

      I forgot to point out that I didn’t know too much about what had happened to my family until recently, after the discussions of collecting information about Muslims after 9/11 triggered something inside.  My grandfather never talked about that period of his life.  Letters home from the camps were screened and redacted with black marker, to the dismay of my father and his mother who didn’t know what was being left out.

  • Ellen Dibble

    I recall there were stories about big civic centers used as gathering points, something like refugee centers, and people had only so much they could bring with them, and they were herded into trains and taken who knows where.  Hart Mountain.  There was a place in a desert.  The memories of the boundaries, where the unguarded free world was cut off from the Japanese center.  

    • TFRX

      Even before that, the “fire sale prices” which many of the interred Japanese-Americans were forced to sell their property and life’s possessions for is quite the “insult to injury” addition.

  • Justine Larsen

    I attended the opening this past weekend of the Interpretive Center at Heart Mountain. I moved from California’s San Joaquin Valley in 1994 and I’ve watched the creation of Interpretive Center take place over the last few years. Coming from California to Wyoming, each time I drove by the site, I could imagine the dismay and depression of the internees as they left their homes to come to this cold, harsh location from the lives they knew along the Western States. I’m so pleased to have the Center open now and I was quite emotional when showing the Center to my children, ages 6 and 9. To explain to them the wrong that was the internment of the American Japanese was a challenge and I truly appreciate the gifts of the tools that the exhibits provide in explaining the history. I want my children to know that such an internment and suspension of Civil Rights can never happen again. My children were touched as well; I believe Shirley was there when my little blonde-headed boy, Charlie, gave a drawing he’d made of the Heart Mountain he knows to one of the Center’s staff. Best wishes to all those that came to celebrate the opening and many thanks to those that made the Center a reality.

    • Eric Muller

      Justine, this is a very moving post.  Thank you for attending the Grand Opening and for sharing your experience here.

  • http://twitter.com/NancyMatsumoto Nancy Matsumoto

    I missed the broadcast and am looking forward to the audio post. My parents and grandparents were imprisoned at Heart Mountain and Manzanar, in California. Here’s a link to my serialized essay on the photographers who documented Manzanar, including Ansel Adams and Dorothea Lange, and the changing interpretations of their work in the years since World War II: 

  • Bobl1234

    Reminds me of Utah Phillips: “The long memory is the
    most radical idea in America.”, as
    recalled by Amy Goodman on Phillip’s death.  Having the long memory reduces the salience of Marc admonition,”History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce.”

  • Japanese Restitution?

    Was there ever any official acknowledgement or apology from the US govt regarding its mistreatment of the Japanese in America?

    Was there ever any restitution for the Japanese — e.g., for their forced imprisonment; loss of their homes and businesses; and destruction of their overall livelihoods?

    • Mieko

      Yes. Surviving internees received reparations in the late 80s/early 90s

    • Eric Muller

      In the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, the U.S. government apologized for the mass removal and incarceration of Japanese and Japanese Americans and authorized a token $20,000 redress payment to those surviving.

      • Mike in Cambridge

        The incarcerated Japanese who were not US citizens received $5000.

  • Wallaby

    Mike in Cambridge – I would call again!

  • Christa Hillhouse

    Truly heartbreaking that Japanese Americans were treated this way; it is a sad chapter in American history. I would hope something like this could never happen here again.

  • Ellen Dibble

    I recall from the interviews that I transcribed a lot of gratitude from those interned to individual Americans (as opposed to the government), who in some instances stored their possessions for instance, and in some instances after the internment helped those interned find places to stay and ways to start new businesses.  It seemed from that set of maybe 40 that without help from Americans, it would have been a lot worse for a lot of these people. (I don’t mean that those interned were not Americans. They were.)

  • Ned

    I’d be curious to learn what the internees thought about reports of Japanese atrocities towards Americans, for example the Bataan Death March, Rape of Nanking, etc. and also the role of Japanese spys in Hawaii who sent targeting information to the Japanese Navy before the Pearl Harbor attack.

    • http://bookofzo.blogspot.com Joshua Hendrickson

      To the extent that they knew about those real and appalling atrocities, the internees probably despised them. After all, these were Americans. It is absolutely true that the military-ruled society of the Japanese empire of the time was atrocious and cruel, but these particular Japanese weren’t a part of that.When you say you’d be “curious” to learn what their reactions were, you imply that you don’t believe they would find them reprehensible. If that is so, why? Just curious.

  • Laurel

    This is a fascinating program. The photos are heartbreaking.
    It’s almost unbelievable that our country sponsored these camps, which were of course, “prisons”.
    I don’t think anything like this could happen again.

    • Mike in Cambridge

      The talk about collecting information about Muslims after 9/11 is what got me interested in finding out more about what happened to my grandfather.  He never talked about it; probably too painful a recollection.

  • Montmartre

    I am not familiar with the laws but Jewish Americans who those who had property seized by the Naziis were given rights after the war for that property to be returned or compensated for.  I would like to know if Japanese Americans who lost property had the right of compensation for that property in front of an independent judicial body.

    • dumspirospero

      Yes.  There were reparations for Jewish people for their seized property and suffering, and for Japanese citizens interred during WWII http://www.democracynow.org/1999/2/18/wwii_reparations_japanese_american_internees.  Congress passed reparations/restitution measures for these families for about $1.6 billion.  Enslaved Africans were the only ones that did not receive compensation for either their free labor or their suffering.

  • Ellen Dibble

    I’d like to think that communities are so well blended into our ways that it would not take internment to figure out who were the spies.  If you isolate illegal aliens, or if they isolate themselves because of fear of being deported, for instance, then if there were, say, a war with Mexico, there wouldn’t be a wide variety of non-illegal-alien types who could help the government sort out the enemies from the others.  The same with Arab Americans who were targeted after 9/11.  The better they are integrated into all sorts of public endeavors, the less likely someone will “have to” resort to something like internment.  But a lot of the Japanese were indeed well integrated, yet nonetheless it apparently took months for the government to decide to let some of the fathers in these families back to the regular internment camps.  I am not hearing about that second-level screening on the show, but I’m waiting.

  • Anonymous

    Interesting to note that the Japanese Americans who live on Hawaii were not interned during the war.

    • Mozeki

      They were interned. In fact they were shipped off the island and sent to American internment camps and to South America. 

      • Eric Muller

        Most in Hawaii were not removed from their homes.  FDR wanted a mass removal but the commanding general in Hawaii declined to implement it.

      • Anonymous

        That’s not what I’ve read about this. I remember reading about the 442nd infantry regiment (Japanese American unit) and that one of the problems facing them was this difference between the mainland and island solders.
        There was also the Hawaiian economy that had to be considered. There were about 150,000 Japanese Americans on Hawaii, interning them all off the island would have been a disaster for the local economy. 

        The 442nd Regimental Combat Team was the most decorated unit for its size and length of service, in the entire history of the U.S. Military.

  • Mieko

    Thank you to Shirley and everyone involved with making the Heart Mountain Interpretive Learning Center happen. I hope to visit there one day with my children to remind them that this part of their history as an American.

    As a Yonsei (4th) generation Japanese American and 4th generation Chinese American, this dark period in American history plays a significant part in my life. My great grandparents and grandparents were transferred from the Santa Anita stables to Heart Mountain. My aunt and father were born in Heart Mountain. My great aunts and uncle were dispersed in other internment camps in the U.S. The Nisei were extremely patriotic and in my family my great uncle served in the army in Europe as a mechanic. My grandfather, Ben Ozeki, was a community policeman in Heart Mountain. They tried making the best of this situation. Most were silent about their pain and the sacrifices they made. The Issei felt confused between what was happening in their mother country and in their new home country. Years later, my father’s generation was trying to make sense of why they were interned.In spite of their Nisei parents telling them that the U.S. actions were meant to protect them, their children understood that it was an injustice and fought hard for an apology from our government. Sadly many Issei and some Nisei died before they heard that apology or received reparations. I remember when my dad received his apology and reparation from the government. 
    When I was in high school, U.S. history books only dedicated a paragraph to this tragic period in our country’s history. I took time as part of an AP history assignment to interview my grandmother. I want future generations of Japanese Americans to remember and learn from this event. As a Chinese American, it really saddens me to learn how many Chinese American citizens were harmed and how they wore buttons and put signs notifying people that said “I am not a Jap.” 
    When I was in Hawaii, I was shocked to learn how Japanese Americans were moved to U.S. internment camps, to South America, and elsewhere. 

    A rap song by Fort Minor called “Kenji” characterizes some of the lessons us 4th generation Japanese Americans learned from our parents, grandparents, and great grandparents about this dark event. 

  • Jim

    Winston Churchill famously called the Lend-Lease program prior to the US entry into World War II “the most unsordid act in history”.  I paraphrase him by saying the US internment of largely loyal Japanese-American citizens was the most sordid aspect of the generally outstanding effort of our country in World War II.

  • Terry Tree Tree

    Interrnment for national security was one thing, totally different, and CRIMINAL, was the thieves, and people entrusted with the Japanese-
    Americans’ property and businesses, that STOLE it, or ‘lost it’, through ‘ineptitude’, that just happened to benefit the ‘inept’!   These were CRIMES, and should have been prosecuted vigorously!!!

  • Manuke

    The Canadian government treated Japanese-Canadians in a similar shameful manner. As in America, steps have been taken to atone for this: an official apology, former camps turned into memorials and museums etc.
    To be sure, Canada and America make “mistakes”, but we reflect on them – and hopefully learn something. Japan, on the other hand, to this day, has amnesia when it comes to WW2 and the events leading up to it – except, of course, for Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

  • Charles

    “Internment camps?” “Internees?” When will historians cut this c**p?! They were CONCENTRATION CAMPS! The people forced into them were PRISONERS OF CONCENTRATION CAMPS! Japanese-American citizens were ARRESTED BY INTERNAL SECURITY FORCES and FORCED INTO CONCENTRATION CAMPS strictly on the basis of RACE AND ETHNICITY. Americans STILL cannot face and admit to the truth 70+ years on. For the record, I’m of 100% Irish-Kelt ethnicity, who realizes that confronting a horrible episode in American history has to start with facing the TRUTH.

  • Charles

    “Internment camps?” “Internees?” When will historians cut this c**p?! They were CONCENTRATION CAMPS! The people forced into them were PRISONERS OF CONCENTRATION CAMPS! Japanese-American citizens were ARRESTED BY INTERNAL SECURITY FORCES and FORCED INTO CONCENTRATION CAMPS strictly on the basis of RACE AND ETHNICITY. Americans STILL cannot face and admit to the truth 70+ years on. For the record, I’m of 100% Irish-Kelt ethnicity, who realizes that confronting a horrible episode in American history has to start with facing the TRUTH.

    • Mike in Cambridge

      People get edgy about the term “concentration camp” because of the association with the Nazi death camps.  However, the whole point of these camps was to concentrate one category of people in a particular place.  “Concentration” doesn’t mean “kill.”  But the people within were definitely incarcerated.

      It depresses me when I read articles claiming that the majority of those incarcerated went voluntarily, because the ones forced into the camps were generally the male breadwinners, without whom the family would be both separated, and without income or a “protector.”  Perhaps they were not officially required to go, but the rest of the family did not have much of an alternative.

    • Pearson Cotton

      Thank you for being brutally honest. We need more Americans who do not share the “minority” stigma to come out and speak truth to power. Unfortunately, there are too few who do. We must all keep the faith that our country’s future success lies in revealing our horrific truth about race realtions.
      Keep up the dialogue.

  • Bce3008bce

    Why isn’t there a mp3 download available for this important historical subject?

    • Larry-n-Laramie

      There is, as a podcast on iTunes. Search “On Point” in podcasts.

  • Nottingham165

    I was born and raised on the other side of Heart Mountain in Cody, Wyoming. It’s amazing how this part of American history has so often been swept under the rug. Although there is hardly any signs left of the Heart Mountain camp. I always listen to On Point and I’m glad to hear this partictular show and that after all these years more light is being shed on this part of our history.

  • Chris

    Great show.  Such an unspoken time in our history.  Great job Jane– your interviewing skills were perfect– very hard to elicit tears from a radio show– but you sculpted the session perfectly.

  • David Miller

    Your program on the Heart Mountain Internment Camp was of
    personal interest to me.  I am not of
    Japanese American descent but I was born at the Heart Mountain Internment Camp
    on September 25, 1944.  Like the lady
    that called in during the program about her birth at the Arkansas internment
    center my mother was an elementary school teacher at an internment camp.  My mother, father and I lived full time at
    the Heart Mountain Internment Camp for the most part under the same conditions
    that the internees did with the importance difference that my family could come
    and go as they wanted to.  Since Heart
    Mountain was so remote the idea of coming and going was pretty much a concept
    rather than a reality. 

    I also have conflicting sentiment about the internment issue.  I have talked with former internees that seem
    to include me even though I was an infant in the political faction that made
    the decision to intern Japanese American citizens.  I don’t feel that way, my family suffered
    economic and opportunity loss as a result of World War Two as many Japanese
    American families did.

    I have met a Japanese American that was born at Heart
    Mountain.  If it hadn’t been for the
    decision to intern Japanese American citizens he and I and our children and
    grandchildren would very likely not have been born.  Like the lady from Arkansas I have many
    conflicting emotions about the internment issue.

    I have a close friend who is Japanese American and
    was interned at Manzanar Internment Camp in California.  His brother served in the US Army in Europe
    and gave his life defending out country. 
    The Second World War and all of the inequities it caused resulted in
    injustice to many of us.

  • shirley

    Hi All: Meant to give you more information– so next summer (August 2012) we are going to have a amazing experience– what I am thinking is to do a film, art, music and cultural festival profiling the young JA’s and local artists–as we unveil the “Memorial Wall”— please tune into http://www.heartmountain.org

    We appreciate your support–and as our beloved Martin Luther King Jr. said “I have a Dream” and my dream and all the dreams of the Japanese Americans and my late mother came true last weekend at our Grand Opening—Thank you all— Shirley 

  • Eric Sandeen

    I attended the opening at Heart Mountain and saw democracy at work — the product of recognition, redress, and, importantly, reconciliation.  I then walked up to the camp site itself, where a small crown had assembled around several plaques, an honor roll of those who had served in World War II, and a viewing area for the Heart Mountain landscape.  One little group clustered around a Nissei (American born, US citizen) internment survivor who was telling a story about his post-war experiences, still a heavy psychological burden, loaded on him as a third-grader, that he is dealing with in his old age.  (I won’t recount the story here, since it would identify him.)  A lifelong Californian, he had come to Heart Mountain — not his internment site – as a way of bearing witness.  After he had retold his story of hurt and resentment a couple on the periphery approached him.  “You have to remember who attacked whom on December 7th,” one of them said.  “But I’m an American,” was the reply.  This was followed by an invitation to go back where he came from (presumably Japan) if he didn’t like it here.  “But I’m from California,” the Japanese American replied.  Then the woman of the pair uttered breathlessly, as though this would end the conversation:  “You have to remember that American is the best country in the world.”  Perhaps it is, but its greatness comes from the hard work of confronting injustice and imperfection and the honesty to see the landscape that we have made and the history for which all of us are responsible.  We have a lot of work to do.

  • Kim Hachiya

    @Eric Sandeen: The whole idea of Japanese Americans being somehow NOT American just won’t die. My father and his family were in Heart Mountain, and here I am, age 56, a hapa born in Omaha, Neb., and occasionally I still get comments like “you speak English well,” or “where are you from?,” (which is code for What is your ancestry?” Thanks for relating the story because it does show we have much work to carry on.

  • Hanamaruyama

    FDR actually signed Executive Order 9066 on February 19th, 1942

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Brennan-Moriarty/100000655771831 Brennan Moriarty

    When I was in the [5th &] 6th grade, my Watsonville Calif Private School talked a whole lot about the internment camps and the frustrating… conditions they lived with. Incidentally 20% [3 out of 15] of the students were Japanese American. This school was academically expressive and pleasant. The Principle and her my-age daughter were part Black, and Harriet Beecher Stowe was very popular too. There was only one mildly hispanic student.
    Seeing culturally distant history close up, can produce/supply interesting nuggets of truth; concider how rare Obama’s childhood was; and how strange_protection [inn forced shelter] looks from hindsight. [milwaukee?Palin'sWyoming too much info, HAY! lol? h'Otell california what DO yoU-Know] scars-on-my-Face =:)

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