The San Diego Chapter JACL, working with Producer/Director Lane Nishikawa, produced a professional, feature-length educational documentary film to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Executive Order 9066. Our Lost Years examines how lives were challenged, how livelihoods were lost, how families persevered and started over, and how the generations who have followed continue to feel the effect of the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II. Though all of our Issei (First generation) have passed on, we witness through their children and grandchildren how their lives would forever change and their futures would be unknown. We used historic and personal footage and photos to authentically visualize the amazing stories of entire West Coast Japanese communities, as they were
uprooted from their homes and sent to ten concentration camps across the U.S., and the years that followed as Redress and Reparations for Japanese Americans was fought for and finally won in 1988. Our Lost Years cries out again for justice, overlooked during WWII, as our Government rises again to violate civil and human rights of our people based on their race.
As years passed, the experience of Japanese Americans during WWII seems to fade from the view of our younger generations. It is imperative that we take every opportunity to remind them of the sacrifices of their ancestors. Generation X and Millennials may not have any true understanding of the multiple hardships of the WWII generation. They did not experience those hardships, and their world is filled with far different challenges, but the legacy that created the world in which they live was forged in the lives of those generations who came before.
Our Lost Years provides a lens into the bridge between generations, the bond between families, the loyalty to one’s country, and the passion with which one fights for those they love. We also capture the loss and sadness of a terrible period in our history and the unquestionable faith of a community to persevere and overcome whatever obstacles they faced. Executive Order 9066 was a dark decision made during a hysterical time. It is a very trying time in our nation’s history, and we owe it to our future generations to never forget and to ensure that it never happens again to any race or any community who calls the United States their home.