LOS ANGELES (KABC) — Heart Mountain is a spectacular and beautiful backdrop to a story of triumph and tragedy. Seventy years ago, an internment camp filled with 10,000 Japanese Americans sat in the shadow of the mountain.
It was just a few miles outside Cody, Wyoming, where the land is rugged and the weather is brutal. It’s where American citizens were imprisoned behind barbed wire and guard towers for no other reason than because of their heritage. Eight out of 10 were from Los Angeles.
Bob Fletcher, a former California agriculture inspector who, ignoring the resentment of neighbors, quit his job in the middle of World War II to manage the fruit farms of Japanese families forced to live in internment camps, died on May 23 in Sacramento. He was 101.
His death was confirmed by Doris Taketa, who was 12 when Mr. Fletcher agreed to run her family’s farm in 1942, the year she and her extended family were relocated to the Jerome War Relocation Center in Arkansas.
MCGEHEE, Ark. — The McGehee Industrial Foundation announces the opening of the WWII Japanese American Internment Museum on Tuesday, April 16, with actor/activist George Takei as special guest.
It will house the exhibit “Against Their Will,” interpreting the history during World War II when the Japanese American population was moved from the West Coast to ten internment camps across the country, forced to leave behind their homes and jobs.
Two of those camps, Jerome and Rohwer, were located in southeast Arkansas. They were home to more than 17,000 Japanese Americans.
HONOLULU • Herbert Yanamura is an American, born and reared among the coffee farms of Hawaii’s Kona district. Yet the U.S. government branded him an “enemy alien” after the 1941 bombing of Pearl Harbor because he looked like the invaders.
So Yanamura volunteered to join the Army to prove his loyalty.
Nearly 70 years later, that same government honored him and the thousands of other Japanese-Americans who served in World War II with one of its most elite rewards: the Congressional Gold Medal.
On Dec. 7, 1941, high school senior Daniel Inouye knew he and other Japanese-Americans would face trouble when he saw Japanese dive bombers, torpedo planes and fighters on their way to bomb Pearl Harbor and other Oahu military bases.
He and other Japanese-Americans had wanted desperately to be accepted, he said, and that meant going to war. “I felt that there was a need for us to demonstrate that we’re just as good as anybody else,” Inouye, who eventually went on to serve 50 years as a senator from Hawaii, once said. “The price was bloody and expensive, but I felt we succeeded.”