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Opinion

Readers React: Echoes of Manzanar in separating families and detaining asylum seekers

INDEPENDENCE, CALIF. - APRIL 27: The Reverend, Dr. Alfred Yoshi Tsuyuki, of the Konko Church of Los
People take part in the annual Manzanar Pilgrimage at the Manzanar War Relocation Camp in Independence, Calif., on April 27.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: The article on the Manzanar pilgrimage relayed the important lessons that the U.S. government’s internment of Japanese Americans during World War II holds for so many communities today.

As a third-generation Japanese American, this is personal. My mother wrote for the Manzanar Free Press before she was sent to Arkansas to join my father, who was later sent to Europe as part of the famed 442nd Infantry Regiment. My uncle, who was the early inspiration behind the Manzanar Museum, met and married my aunt at the camp. After he died, we scattered his ashes over the small creek at Manzanar in accordance with his final wishes.

Members of my generation fought for and won redress and reparations for surviving internees. In 1981, the Presidential Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians concluded that the imprisonment of Japanese Americans was a “grave injustice” caused by “race prejudice, war hysteria and a failure of political leadership.”

Today we are witnessing incidents of family separation and detention without due process. As family members of internment survivors, we have a right and a responsibility to speak out on what’s happening today. This is the legacy of the Manzanar pilgrimage.

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Miya Iwataki, South Pasadena

The writer is vice president of the Little Tokyo Historical Society.

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To the editor: I grew up in Los Angeles and attended Belmont High School, where I got an excellent education.

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My classmates were from countries on almost every continent of the world. All of us worked together, mindful but respectful of our differences. We were all L.A. kids.

Many of my friends were Japanese Americans, and I later learned of the horrible incarceration of their families at Manzanar and other “camps” during World War II.

I have never understood people’s hatred and cruelty to anyone “different” from themselves. Most young people are less concerned about their differences than about sharing experiences and enjoying each other. People of every age and place desperately need to respect each other and peacefully live together.

Mona Gerecht, Los Angeles

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