War hits home for Japanese Americans in L.A.

Frank vividly recalled life after the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor in December 1941. Below are some of his recollections.

Pearl HarborNational Archives

When I heard on the radio the president’s message to Congress and to the American people and later saw the dramatic newsreel broadcasts in the theatres, I was incredulous and heartsick. I simply didn’t want to believe my ears or my eyes, even as the newspaper headlines confirmed the truth — Japan and the U.S. were at war. My worst fears and those of all Japanese living on the West Coast had been realized.

The full significance of the Pearl Harbor attack did not strike home to those of us attending colleges and universities. There, we were insulated among well-educated people of our own age and interests, young adults with whom we shared classes, sports, and a common loyalty to our schools.

But it was impossible to ignore the war. I had a gnawing feeling in the pit of my stomach every day, fed by fear and guilt. I wondered what the white students were thinking as they saw me on campus. Was I a “Jap” in their eyes? How long would the calm and accommodation of Nisei students last? When would the storm burst on our heads?

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