Soon, I will set out on the road again, this time heading to Arkansas and Arizona to visit four of the WRA Camps. I am so glad to be back at it again! It is with a mixture of trepidation and hope that I set out. It is, after all, a sorry chapter in American history that I am exploring. One where our principles of fairness and civil liberties were abandoned out of fear bent by racism. Right at the start of the American entry into World War II, Americans let fear overcome wisdom and our Constitution. Reason said, “We’ve got this, no need to panic.” Fear and hatred said, “We can’t take any chances… ’round them all up!” So, we did.
I have slowly discovered and felt the darkness permeating the WRA Camp sites. It would be hard to escape, even if I wanted to. Some places are worse than others. So far, the Tule Lake Camp is at the top of that list. I’ve noticed that some people are loath to even acknowledge, let alone to talk about, this period in American life. I can understand that and I guess I can drag myself to sympathize. But, acknowledge and discuss it we must, lest another ugly chapter rear its fearful head once again. I have heard that finding some humor in the thing would make it easier for others to take in. If there is any humor to be found, it is certainly not mine to express. That would only be rightly lifted up by those who lived through the experience, or by their descendants offering up, perhaps in a story.
There is a measure of hope that appears to anyone who ventures on this path, looking at the darkness of the WRA imprisonment. It is to be found in the courage and tenacity of all those men, women, and children who lived in the WRA Camps. It is there in the way they lived in the Camps, and it is there in the way they carried on with life after leaving the Camps. It is there in the way former prisoners and their descendants work to remember the WRA Camps today. Their hope glows like a beacon in the night. I hope to reflect some of that light on the rest of my journey.
Thanks for joining me…