by Gail Erisman Valeta
All they could take was one suitcase and what they could wear. That is what President Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066 told Japanese and Japanese-Americans who were living on the west coast after the attack on Pearl Harbor, in 1942. They reported to relocation camps with only one week’s notice.
Marge Taniwaki shared her experience of the Manzanar Camp at Prince of Peace Church of the Brethren in Littleton, Colo. The event July 24 was co-sponsored by Littleton neighborhood citizens and brought 45 people together on a night fraught with hail storms.
Clearly, there was support at the event for calling on the US government to stop history from repeating itself. The recent separation of families at the US-Mexico border feels too similar to the Japanese-American internment for many who recall this part of US history. Indeed, 76 years later Taniwaki can share first-hand what trauma can do to a small child.
She entered the camp when she was just 7 months old. The policy in the camp was that milk was given only to children age 2 and under. The negative health effects to her bones trouble her to this day. Her memories never go away of waking up to wind blowing through the barracks and sand getting into her teeth at night. The hardships wore heavy on the adults as well, who lost everything when evacuation orders came through.
The US government has since apologized and paid reparations to victims of the internment camps who were still alive in 1988. This is the moment now, however, for a living peace church to call for dignity for immigrants and how they are treated in this country.
Find a video of Marge Taniwaki’s presentation at www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZNy75HSH2FM&feature=youtu.be .
-- Gail Erisman Valeta pastors Prince of Peace Church of the Brethren in Littleton, Colo.