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Washington State Remembers JA Incarceration

Washington State legislatures and local community members gather in Olympia on Wedneday. Photo courtesy of Washington State Legislature

On Feb. 19, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, mandating the internment of all Americans of Japanese descent – more than 120,000. State lawmakers offered resolutions to mark the 75th Anniversary of the signing of that executive order, what is now called the Day of Remembrance, and hosted groups and individuals at the state Capitol on Wednesday. Regarding the day’s events, the Senate Members of Color Caucus released this statement:

“My parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles were all incarcerated without due process as a result of Executive Order 9066,” said Sen. Bob Hasegawa, D-Seattle, sponsor of Senate Resolution 8617. “Honoring the Day of Remembrance is as important today as it has ever been. Each year we lose more Nisei World War II Veterans and others of the generation who lived through this pivotal time in our nation’s history. It is up to us to keep the memory alive of their struggles, patriotism and the injustices committed against them in the name of security. We need to remember the root causes of what led to the Japanese American internment – ‘racial prejudice, war hysteria and a failure of political leadership,’ according to the Congressional Commission that years later investigated the internments. A long memory and vigilance will help keep us from repeating history.”

“Without trial and without reason, thousands of Japanese Americans were imprisoned during one of our nation’s darkest hours,” said Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens. “Despite this injustice, in an act that is the epitome of duty and love of country, more than a thousand interned Japanese Americans still volunteered to fight for the country that had turned its back on them. That is patriotism in its truest form.”

“The Day of Remembrance is a chance to reflect on the challenges we have faced and the obstacles we still have to overcome,” said Sen. John McCoy, D-Tulalip. “We should take a long, hard look at this moment in time – a time when people who contribute to our state find themselves in fear of deportation and losing their constitutional rights. We must continue to stand with our friends and neighbors in the face of injustice.”

“The Day of Remembrance is a time to remember the grave injustices our government perpetuated against our fellow Americans of Japanese descent 75 years ago. It is also a time to reflect on our country’s long struggle with racism,” said Sen. Rebecca Saldaña, D-Seattle. “Fear, coupled with racism, led to Executive Order 9066. One of the best ways to honor the Washingtonians and Americans who were wrongfully incarcerated during WWII is to ensure this injustice never happens again.”