Thursday, March 22, 2007

A special interview

Note to readers: This is an accompanying piece to my Friday column" Will our dark time reappear?" My "Friday random thoughts" blog will appear on Monday, then return to its normal Friday slot.

• Wednesday evening I talked on the phone with Elsie Kagehiro, a Tracy resident for 50 years and a survivor of the Japanese-American internment camps during World War II. We talked for more than 30 minutes about her experience in the Granada, Colo., camp and her subsequent readjustment to life after internment.

The following are several quotes transcribed from this interview that I feel express the sadness, wisdom, resolve and amazing lack of bitterness personified by Elsie. Some of these also appeared in Friday's column.

"These boys volunteered to show their loyalty."
She said the saddest part of her internment was watching other people's brothers enlist in the U.S. Army, and then "when the generals came to deliver the news" that these young men had died.

"To be enclosed with a barbed wire fence with soldiers guarding us was a sight to see."

"Since I was younger, my feeling was to get ahead. I didn’t have much bitterness; I was just thinking to get ahead. I’m sure that was the thinking of all the younger people. ... I really felt bad for the older generation"
She said that her experience was not nearly as bad as that of her parents and grandparents who had worked so hard to eke out an existence and even learn English, then to be stripped of everything by their country.

“I felt that I just had to go on with my life. Even among friends I don’t even talk about it, really. We were too busy getting on with our lives.”

"At that time we didn’t have Japanese-American leaders what we have now."
There was no one to speak up for those being interned.

"We were citizens and we were taken away, and that was an injustice I think. Definitely. And I think a lot of people are going through that more or less, now, I think. I feel for the Muslim people, definitely."


Erdos56 said...

Nice column, again. Following on your last piece on extremist TV news, I was reminded of Michelle Malkin's defense of WWII internment:
She's a regular on FOX. I haven't read it, though, so it might not be as outrageous as it seems.

The MacMurchy Fam said...

The Value of One: Jon, I reflected on this theme on a MacMurchy blog entry; it might have been the post on Moderation.

The trick is to always keep before our thoughts the individual. It's so easy to be swept along with the dreaded group-think. Keeping an original thought is a challenge in our pundit-saturated age where there are more opinions than snowflakes in SD.

I have to remember this when gingerly traversing the crowded streets of San Francisco. It helps to engage the person sitting near on the BART; hear a few lines from their stories. All have a story; heart-rending and winsome.

Leadership in America during WWII must have closed their ears to the stories of the Sacred One and become paranoid over the faceless masses of Japanese; good citizens and neighbors and friends.

May history not repeat itself. care