Japanese-American Grandpa Looks Back at Internment

This grandfather was 12 years old when he was imprisoned in an internment camp that held Japanese Americans. Nearly 80 years later, he returned with his grandchildren to share this painful part of history.

Redress and Remembrance for Internees Life at Heart Mountain

Ken Kitajima has returned to Heart Mountain — the internment camp where he and other Japanese Americans were forced to live nearly 80 years ago. This time, he’s traveled to rural Wyoming with his grandkids to retrace a painful period in their family history. Kitajima was 12 when the U.S. government forced his family to leave their home in Campbell, California. As a child, Kitajima didn’t understand what was happening — he first saw it as an escape from bullying at school.

During World War II, people of Japanese descent from Oregon, Washington and California were incarcerated at the Heart Mountain Relocation Center in Park County, Wyo., as the result of an executive order of President Franklin Roosevelt. Residents were at the camp from Aug. 12, 1942 to Nov. 10, 1945, two months after the end of the war with Japan. When the camp was at its largest, it held more than 10,000 people, making it the third largest town in the state. When the people first arrived, a barbed-wire fence to surround the camp was not yet complete. The internees protested the construction of this barrier and caused further work to be delayed. In November 1942, they submitted a petition containing 3,000 signatures to WRA Director Dillon Meyer.

Nearly 120,000 Japanese Americans were imprisoned in these camps during World War II. At the end of 1942, the Kitajima family was transferred to an internment camp in Colorado where they lived until August 1945. Kitajima went on to serve in the U.S. Air Force as a surgical nurse during the Korean War. Despite what was done to his family, Kitajima says he doesn’t hold resentment. But he is sharing what life was like in the camps with his grandkids, so history isn’t forgotten.


08/14/2019 10:22 AM


  • Juels C.
    01/30/2020 20:32

    There is a camp like this in Granada Colorado. The buildings are gone now but there is a replica of what the buildings once looked like. The small cemetery still remains and an old watch tower.

  • Blake A.
    01/29/2020 21:40

    Wait...we all know the Holocaust was happening at the same time right? Ok...

  • Jessica G.
    01/29/2020 02:14

    One of the worst aspects of recent US history. I’m glad he’s speaking out now!

  • Omar B.
    01/25/2020 02:27

    wow remember when we visited the one on Idaho

  • Steven M.
    01/24/2020 03:41

    The same family of cruel satanic people are still controlling all the bad stuff in this world hiding from us like a bunch of cowards .The reason they want are guns is so the can control every mico things we do.i know this video isnt about that ,but its a good thing to put out there to make you think The people that think they want our guns for the good are going to find out the truth when they start killing with the same guns they want to take from us ,but they have know chance. With millions of Americans standing with arms to protect our freedom .I don't care how old i am, i will fight for our freedom they can't kill a soul that lives for all eternity.

  • Kain O.
    01/23/2020 08:06

    Yeah, how about Japan apologizes for Unit 731? Or the mass graves of allied POW's. Or the raping and conscription of Koreans. Or the surpise attack before Christmas on sleeping sailors. The Japanese of WWII were monsters. People do terrible things when they're afraid. Yes, we acknowledge that the Democrats rounded up the Japanese and placed them in camps. Yes, this was awful. No, we have not properly atoned for this. Don't forget the true horrors of the war wasn't committed bu the United States though.

  • J A.
    01/22/2020 23:09

    If he was 12 when he was imprissioned how he became a grandfather?

  • Koy J.
    01/18/2020 20:47

    That’s a Democrat president for you

  • Irv T.
    01/18/2020 06:25

    Sounds similar to what’s happening now

  • Logan F.
    01/17/2020 19:42

    People downgrading America.. at least the Japanese-americans didnt experience the same camps that the nazis provided lmao

  • Sky R.
    01/17/2020 15:00

    And now the U.S government is doing the same with Mexican kids.

  • Tyler R.
    01/17/2020 01:25

    If you wanna know the extent of your American rights, this should be a sobering reminder.

  • Kenneth F.
    01/15/2020 12:00

    My grandfather and grandmother, George & Chizuko(Rosemary) Tsuneta met at Heart Mountain.

  • Kim W.
    01/13/2020 16:52

    Those internment camps are a stain on the USA's history. It's such an embarrassment. A lot of those men were willing to join the military and did fight for our freedoms.

  • Guadalupe M.
    01/13/2020 02:03

    The same is being done to other ....for different reason... but still it’s being done!

  • Frederick H.
    01/12/2020 00:42

    Be happy you can at least speak on the atrocities that happened to you and your people. If you were black they would tell you to get over it. Stop complaining

  • Merrit B.
    01/11/2020 11:55


  • Kevin H.
    01/11/2020 06:01

    I’ll tell you what, the Japanese are a very strong great culture.

  • Mar I.
    01/11/2020 05:46

    I am so ashamed to be American most days. And that's something I never thought i would say. EVER.

  • Lyric W.
    01/11/2020 00:18

    Remember this was done by white ppl just like every other races oppressor