This morning, I’m setting out on the first leg of my journey. My Canon camera, my Canon backpack with lenses, my laptop computer, a yellow notepad, and an old leather brief case full of background materials are all packed in the GMC. In two days, I’ll be at the entrance to what the federal government called Manzanar Relocation Center. The trip will be like driving through a series of beautiful paintings, starting with the vista of Mt. Shasta, and ending with the first glimpse of the Owens Valley, coming down the hill just southeast of Mammoth Lakes.
I decided to take this journey because the (Republican) Presidential rhetoric of today, aimed at American Muslims and Americans of Mexican ancestry, mirrors the World War II (Democratic) Presidential decisions targeting Americans of Japanese ancestry. This haunting connection has jerked at my conscience.
My journey is about understanding…understanding the rhetoric and decisions of American political leaders as America entered WWII. I want to understand the human consequences of the terrible mistakes, decisions, and actions of our government in 1942.
Resolutely, I want to do whatever I can to help protect and preserve the rights and liberties of all Americans, especially those who are most vulnerable.
My journey is about honor. In my own small way, I want to honor the men, women, and children who entered life in the WRA Camps. Men and women volunteered out of the Camps to serve in the military. Those in combat served with courage and distinction in the U.S. Army 442nd Regimental Combat Team. Suffering tremendous casualties in the European theater, the 442nd was one of the most highly decorated units in the war. Those who remained in the Camps found ways to be productive in the midst of captivity, by providing support for others, by creating places of beauty in the Camps themselves, by organizing, and by expressing dissent. In the context of deprivation, imprisonment, and the loss of the fundamental rights of citizenship, people lived with great dignity and honor. With my journey, I want to bring attention to the honor of all those who served in the military, and all those who remained in the Camps. I want to lift up their lives, their tenacity, their courage, and their sacrifice.
As I go down the road in my GMC, come along for the ride. I hope you will make my journey yours. In spite of the serious nature of the subject, I hope you will enjoy the trip.
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Grace and peace,