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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.

Brut.

11/02/2019 10:19 AM
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180 comments

  • Paul C.
    02/27/2020 12:43

    A sad chapter in our history,but at the time it did make sense...

  • Melvin G.
    02/25/2020 19:41

    You talk about the camps now tell the entire story as to why Japanese Americans were placed in special camps on the West Coast.

  • Omar L.
    02/24/2020 20:03

    The exact same thing happened to the Americans in japan🤷🏻‍♂️ have they apologize as well??

  • Cindy C.
    02/24/2020 10:01

    Now Trump is doing the same thing by locking up children to send a message.

  • Iris S.
    02/24/2020 09:53

    on Guam, during world war 2, the japanese enslaved and killed my kind, chamorros. We never got am apology, I don't see why California would be apologizing to them.

  • Vincent L.
    02/24/2020 01:07

    Forrest. Go too Russia

  • Natalie P.
    02/23/2020 07:19

    20k was never enough to help them. They deserved way more. America is just a racist joke sadly..

  • Travis L.
    02/23/2020 05:29

    https://youtu.be/pUBKcOZjX6g

  • Margo G.
    02/21/2020 18:04

    I agree,no more apologies,in times of war, we have victims, heroes and casualties of war. It's the way their interment was handled,that was racism.

  • Beth G.
    02/21/2020 12:48

    I had a japanese friend in high school that told me about this. I had no idea. She said her grandparents lost their property and they never got it back.

  • Randale C.
    02/21/2020 02:38

    Have anyone ever known the word apology can stop the pain of physical suffering that had occurred against human beings but yet this word is always used because the people who speak this word things like this could never occur to them and that's my opinion

  • Sue C.
    02/20/2020 23:51

    Where there is I justice ..apologies needed

  • Lisa D.
    02/20/2020 22:33

    I am tired of having to pay out for things I had nothing to do with! Time marching in. What’s done is done...don’t blame me!

  • Dave E.
    02/20/2020 21:01

    Eh, the federal government did this. That's who *should be* apologizing.

  • Daniel B.
    02/20/2020 18:26

    no such thing

  • Cassandra G.
    02/20/2020 17:18

    Let's see, Japanese was enslaved, Native Americans, African Americans. Who eles needs an apology from America?🤔

  • Joshua C.
    02/20/2020 17:08

    NO not California just the POS dumocRATS trying to get more votes !!!

  • George R.
    02/20/2020 15:45

    Is this idiot forgetting that we're just now. Getting remains from Korea cuz they don't want to give them up. He wants to b**** about being in concentration camps. They're lucky. They weren't executed like our ancestors and uncles and brothers and fathers and everybody was lined up and murdered God's people are stupid. When it comes to that realization and someone starts talking about that now what we did to somebody else about what they did to our families.

  • E.J. M.
    02/20/2020 14:18

    I hope we will never see this happen again. With the war going on now one never really knows what is to come in the future.

  • Gailmary N.
    02/20/2020 13:50

    It is about time.