Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi lights a candle for the incarcerees at Manzanar during a ceremony at the California Museum in Sacramento.
SACRAMENTO — The State Assembly on Feb. 13 passed Assembly Concurrent Resolution (ACR) 1, by Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance), proclaiming Feb. 19, 2017, as the 75th Anniversary of the issuance of Executive Order 9066 and recognizing a Day of Remembrance in California.
“Now, more than ever, every American needs to remember the unjust incarceration of over 120,000 Japanese Americans during World War II,” said Muratsuchi. “Every American needs to know that race prejudice, wartime hysteria, and the failure of political leadership caused this massive injustice.
“And now, as President Trump recently issued an executive order targeting Muslims, every American must rise up to defend our Constitution, respect our history as a nation of immigrants, and fight to ensure that no one is targeted because of their national origin or faith.”
On Feb. 19, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which gave the U.S. Army the authority to remove civilians from the military zones established in Washington, Oregon, and California. This led to the forced removal and incarceration of over 120,000 persons of Japanese ancestry living on the West Coast, who had to abandon their jobs, their homes, and their lives to be sent to one of ten concentration camps scattered in desolate, remote regions of the country.
Shig Yokote of VFW Post 8985 and Girl Scout Heather Koike lead the Pledge of Allegiance at the California Museum in Sacramento on Feb. 13.
No Japanese Americans were ever charged, much less convicted, of espionage or sabotage against the United States.
Each year, the Legislature recognizes this civil injustice and declares a Day of Remembrance. This year, Muratsuchi and his colleagues were joined on the Assembly floor by camp survivors.
Kiyo Sato of Sacramento, a 93-year-old nurse, retired Air Force captain, and veterans activist, who was incarcerated at Poston, Ariz., said, “Never did I think that 75 years later would we still have to be talking about these issues. Other people are facing some of the same problems that we faced in 1942.”
Actor/activist George Takei, who was incarcerated at the Rohwer camp in Arkansas after the issuance of the executive order, released the following statement: “It is deeply concerning that on the 75th anniversary of such an egregious attack on personal liberty, we seem to be repeating the same mistake, oblivious of the hard lesson we learned from it. Fear and ignorance must not trump due process. We are a nation of laws.
California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye spoke at the California Museum ceremony.
“The recent travel ban, and talk of a registry based solely on faith or ethnicity, is a prelude to internment, which I, myself, and over 120,000 others know and experienced first-hand. Now is not the time to divide, it is the time to unite, and promise to never let it happen again. Never again.”
Earlier in the day, Muratsuchi introduced AB 491 which will fund the Civil Liberties Education Program, a state-sponsored project that is administered by the State Library, which awards grants for the development and implementation of educational materials and activities that address the exclusion, forced removal, and incarceration of Japanese Americans and permanent residents of Japanese ancestry during World War II.
The purpose of the program is to educate individuals on the causes and circumstances surrounding Japanese American incarceration, so that participants may learn the history of these events and ensure that such actions are not taken again.
This bill builds on the funding secured by Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) in last year’s budget.
Later in the evening, the California Museum in Sacramento hosted a candle-lighting ceremony held in conjunction with two new exhibits that provide first-hand accounts of this dark time in U.S. history. The ceremony was observed by survivors of the camps, state and local elected officials, and members of the community.