Posts Tagged ‘1942’

War hits home for Japanese Americans in L.A.

July 31, 2009

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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Heart Mountain: coyotes and wandering cattle

June 2, 2009

Frank Inouye was shocked and saddened in 1942 when his family was sent to a relocation center in the barren landscape of northwestern Wyoming. This was not the beauty of Yellowstone National Park 60 miles to the west, this was hardscrabble land between Cody and Powell, Wyoming. Frank wrote of the place:

Who would have thought, a year ago, that I, a proud yet slightly bewildered citizen of a great Metropolis — Los Angeles — would one day leave … for this!! And yet, here I am, companion to the wolves and coyotes and jackrabbits and ticks and wandering cattle, together with ten thousands other people who are equally amazed at finding themselves thousands of miles from home…. Somehow, however, we take it in stride and live our lives as peacefully and comfortably as possible.

Inouye_HM_car