Retracing the Painful Past at an Internment Camp

This is why two Japanese-Americans decided to go back to the Wyoming internment camp where they were imprisoned as children.

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.


11/02/2019 10:19 AM
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  • Arnulfo C.
    2 days

    America its. A continente no its a country

  • Jackie G.
    3 days

    This was a great injustice done to them and reparations were paid ... end of story

  • Joseph M.
    4 days

    We must never forget

  • James L.
    5 days

    Takei- Takei 2020 got my vote

  • Joshua H.
    5 days

    I could care less. At least y’all got reparations so stfu about it.

  • Daniel E.
    6 days

    To. Bad. Tell. Japes. In. Japan. About. Your. Problem. Thy. Started. The. War

  • Amador E.
    6 days

    Asiáticos americanos... Ó Japoneses estadounidenses. América es desde Argentina hasta Alaska.

  • Howard A.
    01/13/2020 05:37

    And America paid reparations to the Japanese for that injustice.But doesn't feel blacks are due the same for there treatment in America

  • Kevin W.
    01/12/2020 22:37

    It was wartime

  • Lloyd T.
    01/10/2020 19:00

    U noticed they used a white woman in the pic.

  • Reuel L.
    01/10/2020 01:21

    Until the day that he died!

  • Joseph P.
    01/10/2020 01:00

    Oh problem there they were not concentration camps due to the fact that they were not a constant flow of people riding every single day and being either put the death in some sort of device or forced to work till they died and they were not starved it wasn’t the best but it was a prisoner of war campAnd the reasoning behind this is because the United States was afraid of people that were still loyal to the Japanese. All forces so I mean either we had a choice of killing them all sending them all out of the country or in prison them and call sadly enough and present them what is the easiest thing

  • Brandon L.
    01/10/2020 00:26

    And roselvelt was a Democrat

  • David E.
    01/09/2020 23:18

    Is it sad yes was it necessary absolutely the sacrifice that The American Japanese made by being locked up gave the US a vict'ry because no secrets were ever revealed to Japan by in American Japanese.

  • David E.
    01/09/2020 23:17

    Doing the time that they were imprisoned not one secret from American soil was given to the enemy. And if there were spies from Japan trying to get information they were not Asian probably Russian So that their looks would blend N

  • Kenny K.
    01/09/2020 17:34

    It's called war.....

  • Richard M.
    01/09/2020 01:12

    In 1942 the President, House and Senate were Democratic majorities. Let that sink in.

  • Jeff M.
    01/08/2020 23:43

    Democrats' shining legacy.

  • Riantho M.
    01/08/2020 19:54

    Pearl harbor? War in the pacific?

  • Marjorie D.
    01/08/2020 19:38

    What has, what happen in the Philippines, have to do with putting innocent people in American concentration camps.