Thursday, December 01, 2016

World War II Memories

Billy Manbo is about my age and we both grew up during the war in the American West, with a significant difference.  I was comfortably raised in Spokane while Billy and his family were dealing with harsh realities in Heart Mountain, a Japanese American relocation center in the Wyoming badlands.  
While my father was serving in the Army reconstruction unit in war devastated Japan, his father, Bill, was trying to truthfully answer harsh loyalty questionnaires for military authorities.
Like my Dad, Bill Sr. was handy with a camera and took color photos of life in the camp that are featured in the book “Colors of Confinement” edited by University of North Carolina law professor Eric L. Mueller.  
It was Military Zone 2 if you lived in Spokane during the war starting in 1942 and relatives in Seattle and Bremerton were in Zone 1 where Japanese American citizens were uprooted from their homes on Bainbridge Island and sent to a War Relocation Center.
One of those former Seattle residents, Sally Sudo, spoke Saturday at the Or Emet Minnesota Congregation of Humanistic Judaism meeting in the Minneapolis Jewish Community Center.  She was six years old on Dec. 7, 1942, when the Imperial Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. Her family operated the Olympia Cafe in Seattle.  
They were “relocated” to the Minidoka WRC near Jerome, Idaho, where I visited the memorial markers in 2015.  When her brother, with the military service, was transferred to Fort Snelling in the Twin Cities much of the family followed him here after the war.

Upcoming events here related to Japanese American relocation include a Day of Remembrance 2 pm Feb. 19 at the Minnesota History Center  and starting Jan. 27 through March an exhibit at Wallace Fine Arts Center at Macalester College, St. Paul.

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