CAPAC Members Mark the Day of Remembrance of WWII Japanese American Internment
February 18, 2011
Washington, DC -- On Saturday, February 19, 2011, Japanese Americans will take a moment to remember the tragic events that imprisoned their community sixty-nine years ago. To recognize the significance of this day, Rep. Judy Chu, Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), introduced a resolution today recognizing the historical significance of this day and providing Americans with an opportunity to reflect on the importance of justice and civil liberties during times of uncertainty.
The National Remembrance Day observes the signing of Executive Order 9066, the presidential mandate that ordered 120,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry to be imprisoned in concentration camps during World War II. Italian Americans and German Americans also faced restrictions on their freedom and civil liberties under this Order.
“Although it may bring back painful memories of a period in American history,” Rep. Chu said, “the day also provides an ongoing reminder about the value of protecting the civil rights of all people. The Day of Remembrance honors all who fought—and continue to fight—for freedom and equality among all people. This day is not just for those impacted by the signing of this unjust Executive Order but a day to uphold justice and our values as a nation.”
“This National Day of Remembrance marks a dark chapter in our nation’s history,” Rep. Madeleine Bordallo (GU) and Vice-Chair of CAPAC, “Executive Order 9066 suspended the civil rights of thousands of Japanese Americans, German Americans, and Italian Americans during World War II based on wartime hysteria and racial preconceptions. We must use this opportunity to learn from the mistakes of the past and to ensure we do not make those same mistakes in the future.”
Rep. Matsui (CA-05) said, “A Day of Remembrance helps our nation continue the conversation about this painful, but important part of our nation’ history. It facilitates conversations between grandparents and their grandchildren, teachers and their students. We have so much to learn from this event, and it is imperative that we learn the lessons this moment in history have taught us.”
“We cannot turn back the hands of time, but we must recognize past mistakes and learn from them. Despite racial prejudice and World War II hysteria, these Americans continued to show their loyalty for their country. A National Day of Remembrance ensures that we never forget this grim chapter of our nation’s history,” said Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (HI-1)
“The Japanese American internment was a shameful chapter in our country’s long history of exclusion,” said Rep. Michael Honda (CA-15). “The Day of Remembrance is of particular importance to me as I spent part of my childhood in Amache, an internment camp in southeastern Colorado. In 1942, our nation’s leaders failed us. Some 120,000 people were taken from their homes and incarcerated, simply because of their ancestry. The great thing about humanity is that we have the opportunity to learn from our mistakes. For some, this lesson has yet to be learned – we must not vilify entire groups of people because it is politically expedient. The hatred that fueled our government’s decision to round up Japanese American citizens like animals continues to be spewed today in calls for mass deportations of immigrants that work hard and pay taxes and contribute to our economy. It is the same hatred that drives constitutional amendments that would end birthright citizenship. As elected officials, we have the duty to shape public discourse; we should not be spreading hate that obfuscates the facts. We must reaffirm our commitment to basic principles that are fundamental to our nation: due process, fairness, and equality.”
The Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) is comprised of Members of Congress of Asian and Pacific Islander descent and members who have a strong dedication to promoting the well-being of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. Since 1994, CAPAC has been addressing the needs of the AAPI community in all areas of American life.