back

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

171 comments

  • Polo I.
    04/28/2020 16:26

    Where tf is our reparations? 🤔🤔

  • Chuck Z.
    01/30/2020 04:03

    Couldnt hold it against America!! I know they were here on good standing but trust wasnt there hopefully they were treated good

  • Linda B.
    01/29/2020 00:18

    Japan had bombed our soldiers in Pearl Harbor. This was a preventative act, a necessary precaution.

  • James R.
    01/25/2020 18:22

    Just maybe, it may have had a little bit of something to do with how the Japanese sucker-punched us at Pearl Harbor... Just like with the Muslim influx today the Japanese were not all bad but who had time to sort them out?

  • Matthew S.
    01/24/2020 20:17

    Move on Sulu. Everyone else has

  • Al H.
    01/24/2020 15:47

    National security in war comes first. There were 100’s of spy’s caught during this time.

  • Zoe B.
    01/23/2020 18:33

    Point...it was a democrat president...and you are a democrat...what does that say about your intelligence

  • Weiber T.
    01/23/2020 07:37

    Oh my heart cries for you boo who go home

  • Jim V.
    01/20/2020 05:01

    Time of war stop

  • Arnulfo C.
    01/18/2020 15:41

    America its. A continente no its a country

  • Jackie G.
    01/17/2020 19:58

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

  • Martinez J.
    01/15/2020 23:04

    We must never forget

  • James L.
    01/15/2020 16:31

    Takei- Takei 2020 got my vote

  • Joshua H.
    01/15/2020 15:25

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

  • Daniel E.
    01/14/2020 19:12

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

  • Amador E.
    01/13/2020 23:25

    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!