In my last post I mentioned Mr. Tsugio Ito. The Stories of Transformation series says the following:
He grew up in Hiroshima, Japan. When an atomic bomb was dropped on August 6, 1945, he was playing in his school playground. His older brother who attended a different school was immediately killed. In 1998, Mr. Ito’s son, Kazushige, came to New York City to work in the offices of Fuji Bank in the World Trade Center. The office was on a high floor of the South Tower, and on September 11, 2001, Kazushige was killed. In 2007, a group of students from Kazushige’s high school came to the U.S. and brought strands of origami cranes. Mr. Ito says that the events of September 11th reconfirm his belief that we should all work to prevent violent tragedies and seek global peace.
Wow. I don't know about Mr. Ito's spiritual views. It is unlikely that he is a Christian since Wikipedia says that only two to three percent of the total population of Japan is Christian. But I think the kind of forgiveness he demonstrates is available from only one source. Perhaps he knows Christ on a deeper level than many who claim him as Lord and Savior.
The mention of Hiroshima sparked something in my thoughts...the similarities between the experiences of the Japanese during World War II and the Muslims caught in the aftermath of 9-11. I came upon a website that focused on that exact theme.
The website is called Face to Face and it gives an up close and personal look at some of the experiences of these two ethnic groups....very different in many ways, yet they share the unique experience of becoming the enemy mainly because they looked like "the enemy."
I must not have paid much attention in history class. Even though I was vaguely aware the Japanese had been detained, I really knew very little about the travesty. These people were rounded up, put on trains and shipped to what President Roosevelt referred to as concentration camps.
On Feb. 19, 1942, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, giving the military the ability to create military areas and exclude any persons from those areas at its discretion. These excluded people would be given accommodations provided by the military.
On March 2, the military designated the western halves of California, Oregon, and Washington, and the southern part of Arizona as military zones. Japanese-Americans were ordered to leave these areas, and Roosevelt soon signed an act allowing the military to forcibly remove those who refused to leave. (Truman Library)
The federal government created the War Relocation Authority, which oversaw the removal of 120,000 Japanese-Americans from military areas over the next 18 months. The Japanese were taken to 10 internment camps in remote areas in eastern California, northern Arizona, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, and Arkansas. (PBS)
“The government made no charges against them, nor could they appeal their incarceration,” according to Our Documents, a Web site of the National Archives. “All lost personal liberties; most lost homes and property as well.”
They weren't killed outright but...
Life in the camps was hard. Internees had only been allowed to bring with then a few possessions. In many cases they had been given just 48 hours to evacuate their homes. Consequently they were easy prey for fortune hunters who offered them far less than the market prices for the goods they could not take with them.
They were housed in barracks and had to use communal areas for washing, laundry and eating. It was an emotional time for all. "I remember the soldiers marching us to the Army tank and I looked at their rifles and I was just terrified because I could see this long knife at the end . . . I thought I was imagining it as an adult much later . . . I thought it couldn't have been bayonets because we were just little kids." from "Children of the Camps"
Some internees died from inadequate medical care and the high level of emotional stress they suffered. Those taken to camps in desert areas had to cope with extremes of temperature.
The camps were guarded by military personnel and those who disobeyed the rules, or who were deemed to be troublesome were sent to the Tule Lake facility located in the California Rocky Mountains. In 1943 those who refused to take the loyalty oath were sent to Tula Lake and the camp was renamed a segregation centre.
Did this really happen in America?
Next post...a few of those faces from the Face to Face website. It's sort of like putting a face with a name. Or perhaps more to the point…putting a face on the “enemy” and in doing so, we find out that he is not the enemy afterall….