|By Paul Kusuda
In February, we remember President Washington, President Lincoln, and others. Some of us have other
remembrances. We remember some good occurrances, some not so good. We remember some things to help us
avoid potential problems in the future. Many times, we remember things whether or not we want to keep them in our
Many persons of Japanese ancestry have a day of remembrance — Feb. 19, 1942. Nearly two months after the
"Day of Infamy," Pearl Harbor, territory of Hawaii, Dec. 7, 1941, Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt promulgated Executive
Order 9066 on Feb. 19, 1942. It resulted in devastating effects on 120,000 persons of Japanese ancestry who were
uprooted from their homes in California, Oregon, and Washington and forceably sent for indefinite stays in Wartime
Civilian Control Administration Assembly Centers and later to War Authority Relocation Centers in desolate areas in
seven states, from California and Arizona to as far east as Arkansas.
Executive Order 9066 proclaimed: "… I hereby authorize and direct the Secretary of War, and the Military
Commanders whom he may from time to time designate, … to prescribe military areas in such places and of such
extent as he or the appropriate Military Commander may determine, from which any or all persons may be
excluded, and with respect to which, the right of any person to enter, remain in, or leave shall be subject to
whatever restriction the Secretary of War or the appropriate Military Commander may impose in his discretion." The
Order also noted that it shall not "…be construed as limiting or modifying the duty and responsibility of the Attorney
General and the Department of Justice… for the conduct and control of alien enemies, except as such duty and
responsibility is superseded by the designation of military areas thereunder."
The order did not cite Germans, Italians, or Japanese even though the United States was at war with the Axis:
Germany, Italy, and Japan. It also did not make reference to American citizens; however, the last sentence of the
order appeared to note indirectly that control of others than alien enemies can be related to designation of military
It's been 66 years since Executive Order 9066 was promulgated. Most of us who were personally involved in
getting things in order, saying our "goodbyes," disposing most of our belongings, and packing for our trip to unknown
destinations and for an unknown period of time, are gone. Those of us who are still hanging around have our
memories. We had both similar and dissimilar experiences, responses and memories of what happened. My
recollection of the experiences will be reported in part in the following issues of Asian Wisconzine.
Many families had extremely short notice "to get out of town." Others were fortunate to have had more advance
notice by observing what happened to other families. Those who lived in Terminal Island, Calif., had very little
notice — less than 10 days. "Vultures" swept in and offered to buy household and other items at prices less than 10
percent of value — many times much less! Families destroyed belongings such as traditional clothes, heirloom
china and silverware, antiques, and so forth, rather than giving in to such loathsome people.
No one was told how far the families had to move away from Terminal Island, a tuna-fishing and cannery district.
Many moved to areas in east Los Angeles where relatives and friends lived. Many from L.A. (including me) rode on
large wood panel-sided trucks to help families move belongings such as clothing, household items and furniture.
With "vultures" continuing to taunt families, we moved load after load of stuff to L.A. Within a couple of months, the
families were again forced to move, many to the Manzanar Relocation Center, which became the Kusuda address
also. However, because of severely restrictive governmental instructions, they had to leave much behind again.
In L.A., as in other urban areas, 10" by 12" posters were nailed to telephone poles in selected parts of the city. The
notices were explicit: "Instructions to all persons of Japanese ancestry living in the following areas:" The areas were
described by county, highways (if applicable), and streets — north, east, south, and west. One such notice (probably
like all others) noted " … all persons of Japanese ancestry, both aliens and non-aliens, will be evacuated …" The
notice, dated April 24, 1942, set the evacuation date for one week later at noon. Once an area was posted and
families evacuated, it was a forbidden area for persons of Japanese ancestry, whether alien or non-alien. It was of
interest that we American citizens were re-categorized as non-aliens, a euphemism that implied that we, like our
parents, were supposed enemies of our country. (To be noted is that Japanese immigrants were not eligible to
become naturalized American citizens until 1952.)
In the next and following issues of Asian Wisconzine, I shall write about what we were allowed to take with us to
our new "homes" for an unknown period of time. Some families used the offer included in the Exclusion Notice:
"The United States Government through its agencies will provide for the storage at the sole risk of the owner of the
more substantial household items, such as iceboxes, washing machines, pianos and other heavy furniture." Other
families, having little trust, did not even consider the offer. Actually, I think most people were not even aware of it.
So little time, so much to do.