Posts Tagged ‘Japanese’

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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Frank and his time at Heart Mountain camp

May 26, 2009

A year and a half ago, I started a blog about the Lincoln Highway, the first coast-to-coast road across the U.S. I really enjoy keeping others informed about people and places along the Lincoln, and I probably learn more than anyone every day. So I’m very excited to begin blogging about a subject I’ve been working on at times for a decade, the story of Frank T. Inouye.

Frank grew up in Los Angeles, an all-American boy of Japanese parents on the eve of World War II. He did lots of interesting things but what left the greatest impact on him was his internment at Heart Mountain Relocation Center in Wyoming during World War II. He likewise made an impact at Heart Mountain, speaking out when the U.S. Army came looking for recruits. If you think he was bewildered and angry, you’d be right.

FrankInouye

I’ll be writing regularly about Frank and my efforts, along with his family, to publish his story. It can be termed a memoir or an autobiography, but whatever you call it, it’s a moving, funny, insightful look at growing up in America in the 1930s and ’40s, all while looking — to many — like the enemy.