Washington, DC - On this 77th anniversary of Executive Order 9066, we do more than just remember the Presidential order that enabled the incarceration of nearly 120,000 Japanese and Japanese Americans.
We remember the racism and xenophobia against Japanese and other Asian communities that led up to the issuance of Executive Order 9066.
We remember how our government lied about the national security threat that we imposed, simply because of our Japanese heritage.
We remember how our community leaders were targeted by the FBI because of the groups they were in, members of Buddhist and Shinto churches, martial arts instructors, Japanese language school teachers, and many others.
We remember how the census was used against us to identify who was Japanese and needed to be rounded up and imprisoned.
Most of all, we remember the lives impacted: the dreams ended, the families torn apart, the lives destroyed.
We remember that Japanese Americans were forced to prove their allegiance to our Constitution through the dedication of military service for a country that was imprisoning their families with no guarantee of release. We remember others who showed their patriotism by choosing to defy unconstitutional orders in support of Constitutional ideals. These are choices no one should ever have to make.
We remember all these things especially because they are now repeating today.
It is not enough for today to be a Day of Remembrance. It must be a day that we say no more to separating families and imprisoning children, no more spreading lies about immigrants, no more targeting of people because of where they come from or what religion they follow, and no more using the census as a weapon.
Just over thirty years ago, we as a country formally recognized the wrongs we had done and offered an apology to those incarcerated during the war. We should not have to make another apology for what we do now. We can correct ourselves, we can do better.
For a listing of some of Day of Remembrance events scheduled around the country, please refer to the JACL website at https://jacl.org/events/day-of-remembrance/