Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day

My dad was born in the township that became the city I worked for as a police officer for 26 years.  After President Roosevelt signed the executive order that authorized the mass incarceration of 110,00 Japanese Americans in 1942,  he was pulled out a few months before he could graduate from Washington High School.

He and his parents, his two other sisters and little brother were first sent to Tanforan Racetrack while the Internment camps were being set up.  He described how everyone had to stuff hay into sacks for beds and the smell of horse manure was horrible during the warm weeks he was there.  

He and his family were then shipped to Topaz with the few pounds of allowed belongings they could bring from home.  Even after all this, like many other Japanese American men, he joined the Armed Forces and served in Germany during the war.  

When he returned to California, after the war, he got married to my mom and tried to find a job.  Even though he wore his service uniform with service medals to job interviews, time after time, he was told, "We don't hire Japs here."  The US Army offered him a job at the Presidio in San Francisco as a civilian comptroller.  That lead an assignment for him to aid in establishing the US Army Headquarters in Japan.  So that is how I came to live in Japan at the age of 11 months.  My dad continued to work for the Army for 35 years and is now retired and living in California.  Thank you dad for everything.  Living on an Army base all those years, I've really come to appreciate the Armed Forces.  Thank you all who serve and have served our country.

30 comments:

Tracey Clarke said...

What an amazing story, Sheila. The internments are stilln such a enormous scar on American history.
Many, many thanks to your dad, from me as well....AND he gave us you, too.
(that photo...what a cutie!)

Gary Heller said...

Great story and tribute to your father, a very honorable man. The anti-Japanese sentiment that was rampant throughout this country after Pearl Harbor must have made it almost unbearable for your Dad and other Japanese Amaericans as well. Truly a strong, determined and worthy man to have come through all that and still dedicate himself to family and the country.
Great portrait as well.

The Bull said...

Very cool, thanks for sharing that. It is a testament to his character and his sense of duty and dedication.

Hellenne Vermillion said...

I had no idea! What an amazing history your family has and that it is part of you. A very strong family, and you look just like your Dad! Thank you for posting this.

Manon Doyle said...

Thanks for sharing your story with us Sheila! Your dad sound like an amazing man who persevered through all those hardships!

r garriott said...

Thank you Sheila, for sharing your Dad's very American story, for better and worse. (A very handsome man he is, too!)

dominique eichi said...

Thank you to your DAD for his service and forgiving us Sheila, may God bless him and your family. We are honored to know you. Please give him my respect =)

Alice Thompson said...

Sheila, thank you for giving us a look into your past and how those factors no doubt help to shape the person you are today.

Dana Cooper Fine Art said...

What a lovely tribute to your dad Sheila! Thanks for sharing that.

Edward Burton said...

Very nice tribute, Sheila.

Cathyann said...

Now that is a man to look up to and honor.What sad and nasty things happen as a result of war. I admire your dad's courage and service in spite of the prejudice he faced. No doubt he left that trait with your too. Thanks for sharing Sheila.

pencilportraits said...

Your Dad must make you so proud Sheila, I've not visited you for a while and I'm glad I 'came back into the fold' to read your Dad's story. What an amazing man who never gave up, what an inspiration to us all.

Diane Morgan said...

What a great patriot to enlist after all that was done to his family. Wonder if he was looked down upon in Japan by the Japanese?
He kept his spirit during incredibly tough times. You must be very proud of him.

artbyakiko said...

You and your family have such an amazing background. My father, who passed away 7 years ago, served in the Japanese Imperial Army and was one of the very lucky ones to come home. My aunt's husband was a Yankee Samurai like your dad. Many years ago, seeing them together in my house having a wonderful time was a treat.
Thanks for sharing your father's story.

laurens.paint.palette said...

You can see your dad's strength in his portrait! What an amazig story!

Cynthia said...

Amazing history, Sheila. I usually assign a research project on concentration camps in the United States. My students are surprised to discover the treatment of the Japanese during the war. I assign a short story called "The Bracelet" that centers on a family who is undergoing this very same situation you write about. In the story, the family has to move to Tanforan Racetrack, and Internment camp to await transfer to another camp...the authors name escapes me now but maybe you are familiar with the story? I have the complete book at my office...it's fiction but I think it's based on truth. The lack of trust resulted in a failed test of the constitution. I think it is a great lesson to learn...and perhaps we haven't learned it yet? I know of many tanned Puerto Ricans who were questioned at the airport in the years following
the tragic events of 9/11.
Also, friends in Michigan told me about the difficulties some Muslims suffered as well. It was unfair treatment to your father and other Japanese. The fact that many needed to prove their loyality
even after a shocking betrayal. I read that many lost everything-businesses, homes, cars...everything while other Americans bought at a great savings! And more than that-their communities were torn apart; friendships ended, everyone experienced starting at "ground zero." Thank you for sharing your family history, Sheila. btw I wrote about my father too! Take care- abundant love to you and your family.<3

L.Holm said...

Sheila, what an amazing story. Tracey said it best - the internment was such a scar on American history. We owe an incredible debt of gratitude to men like your father who continued to serve the country despite such treatment. Handsome man!! and you are a truly beautiful daughter.

Kim VanDerhoek said...

A wonderful tribute and history, thank you for sharing it! It's a shame that your father, who helped serve and protect our country, was faced with such prejudice. He has my respect and gratitude for his service.

Stephen Dell'Aria said...

A great photo and a true American hero.

Carrie Jacobson said...

Sheila, thank you for sharing your story, your family's story. What a tale of loyalty and love and betrayal. Your father must be special, indeed - and now I begin to get an idea where your incredible enthusiasm and perseverance comes from. Also, he's so handsome!

Gail H. Ragsdale said...

A wonderful story Sheila! The internment camps were a shameful part of our history and I am amazed at the people who like your Father went on and enlisted in the armed services in spite of the injustice done to them! My Father was a B-29 pilot in WWII in the Pacific and I honor his memory too.

Wonderful portrait of your Father!

Mrs. C said...

great story! Your father is a good man.

Carol Schiff Studio said...

Another great story from Sheila! It is sooo sad that throughout history we can find one after another story of such hardships. It seems every ethnic group has struggled at one time or another. It is a tribute to their strength that they did not give up, and in the end, triumphed over the inequities they suffered. This is what makes America strong.

Paintings by Irit Bourla said...

WOW what a story.
Now we know why you are such a great person. Like father like daughter.
Happy to have you in my life.

Dean H. said...

Thanks for the amazing story. A great tribute to your Dad....an honorable man.

Mary Paquet said...

Sheila, thank you for sharing the story of your dad and your family. Your dad is such an honorable man in the face of such poor treatment. One of my good friends has similar family stories. She took her mom, a native of San Jose, to a reunion of people who were held with her family in Wyoming. They lost their property and were forced to start over again after the war. A very sad part of US history. Your dad's picture is handsome indeed, and his physical and spiritual qualities are evident in his beautiful and loving daughter.

Gwen Bell said...

Thank you so much for posting this amazing story...and how apropos for Memorial Day. It is brave men like your Father who did what their heart said was right in the face of every obstacle and injustice that made this country great. The very thought of that proud, courageous man being incarcerated is abominable!

Knowing that both your Father and Mother come from heritages that were oppressed by the government explains a lot about your personal strength and why you are such an amazing women. With those strong genes you were destined to become Wonder Woman!. It's such a privileged to know you, Shelia.

Kathleen Krucoff said...

Sheila, thank you for sharing this incredible story. Your father is obviously a great man and with your mother raised a wonderful daughter.

James Parker said...

Wow, Sheila...Thanks for sharing.

Dean Grey said...

Very touching, Sheila!

Thank you and thanks to your dad as well!

-Dean