Saturday, June 30, 2007

Political Boo-Hoo Brigade Decends on Heart Mountain

In case you missed, politicians (not historians) got all weepy at Heart Mountain, Wyoming last week where a couple new plaques were dedicated.

One plaque from the National Park Service included the now obligitory "barb wire" and "guard tower" references. The other talked about what a great guy politician Norm Mineta is.

Another important purpose of the big whoop-de-do was to figure out the best way for politicians and Japanese-American ethnic political activists to feed at the money trough.

The cultish Japanese-American Reperations Movement is a big money business. BIJAC used to post their minutes on-line (before realizing they were being scrutinized) and I recall a comment about a relative who was a political lobbiest who would work pro-bono until the government coughed up the taxpayer dollars for the "memorial" then she would paid for her lobbying fees from the same money, etc....etc....

But I digress. Here's a link to the weepy Heart Mountain story. Thanks to Alan Simpson, these have been going on for years:

http://www.trib.com/articles/2007/06/26/news/wyoming/080af678a230c4588725730300831b9d.txt#blogcomments

Group plans Heart Mountain memorial center
By RUFFIN PREVOST
Billings Gazette Tuesday, June 26, 2007

HEART MOUNTAIN -- Not much is left of the internment camp that held nearly 11,000 Japanese-Americans during World War II, most of them U.S. citizens. A cluster of squat, crumbling buildings hug the weed-patched ground, and a tall chimney rises from an open field.But soon, a new building may rise on the windswept expanse that lies in the shadow of iconic Heart Mountain. A charitable foundation plans to open by June 2009 an interpretive learning center that will tell the story of life at the camp. The site has been recognized by the Department of the Interior as a National Historic Landmark, a status granted to less than 4 percent of properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Two unlikely but natural friends who remember the camp returned to the site Saturday to help announce plans for the $5.5 million, 11,000 square foot center, to be funded and built by the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation.

Former Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta was interned there as a boy, where he met future U.S. senator Alan K. Simpson of Cody. They were among nearly 200 people on hand, including several former internees of the camp and a host of government dignitaries, all there to dedicate the site as a National Historic Landmark.

Mineta recalled a long-ago Boy Scout gathering, with its knot-tying and woodworking contests."And then we got paired off," he said, to pitch a pup-tent with a partner and dig a trench around the tent to divert water in case of a thunderstorm. Mineta recalled the boy he was paired with worked hard to aim their trench toward another tent downhill, and cackled with glee later that night when it rained, flooding the lower tent."Alan, would you please shut up?" Mineta recalled telling his tent-mate, Alan Simpson, who would serve in the Senate when Mineta was a member of the House of Representatives.

Raising funds

The two men have remained friends and political allies through the years, and said they will be working, along with other foundation board members from across the country, to raise funds and awareness for the center.

The foundation has already received a $500,000 grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, $100,000 from the private Taggart Fund and $100,000 from the Higuchi and Saito families . Another $50,000 has been raised from various sources, said Douglas W. Nelson, fundraising co-chair for the foundation, bringing the total to $750,000.

Congress has set aside $38 million for the Department of the Interior to use in a grant program for projects that will preserve the 10 former internment sites, including Heart Mountain.

But Nelson said no decision has been made on how or when those grants will be awarded. He said the foundation would continue working toward raising the full $5.5 million needed for the center." We want to be in a good position to be able to compete for those funds when they become available," he said.

Foundation president Dave Reetz said that though little remains of the camp's buildings, the center will invoke "the power of place" to tell visitors a compelling and cautionary story.Plans call for the center to include architectural elements that evoke the long, narrow barracks of the camp, as well as separate structures, including a reconstructed sentry station and guard tower.

The center, to be built on part of 50 acres owned by the foundation, will feature two recreated barrack living quarters, using original furnishings and artifacts from the foundation's collection. Exhibits and resources at the center will include oral histories from former internees and area residents, plus hundreds of original photographs, sketches, diaries and records that convey what life was like at the camp.

Mass relocations

During the spring of 1942, more than 75,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry and 45,000 Japanese aliens living on the West Coast were sent to 10 internment camps across the West, including Heart Mountain.

An executive order signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt gave the military authority to relocate people it deemed a threat, but no such mass relocations were required of Americans of Italian or German ancestry*. Families left behind homes, jobs, businesses, friendships - entire lives. Taking only what they could carry, they were sent to live until 1945 in isolated, remote camps.

During the war, Heart Mountain was Wyoming's third largest city, with families living in sparse tarpaper barracks behind barbed wire fences, under constant watch by armed guards. Inside the camp, life continued. Community members ran their own newspaper, cultivated nearly 3,000 acres of crops and bred hogs and chickens. More than 500 children were born at the camp.

Mineta said it was important for current and future generations to learn the legacy of the camps."What we're doing here at Heart Mountain is making sure nothing like this ever happens to other Americans," he said.

"It's important that we recognize the role history plays in educating us," said Gov. Dave Freudenthal.The government was wrong in ordering the internments, Freudenthal said, so Heart Mountain teaches a lesson of humility and tolerance."The truth is, this was not a shining moment for Wyoming," he said, recalling that many around the state adopted racist and discriminatory attitudes toward the internees.

But it also teaches a lesson of courage and perseverance, he said, based on the many triumphs of former internees in their lives after the camp."America may have given up on you, but you didn't give up on America," Freudenthal said. Simpson said the days the camp was open were "a most profoundly confusing time for a kid or an adult."He recalled that "there were signs in Cody on the restaurants that said 'No Japs' were allowed," but there were no such signs for Italian-Americans or German-Americans."Hatred corrodes the container it's carried in," Simpson said.

Hamburger and a Coke

Mike Hatchimonji, 79, was 14 when he was taken to Heart Mountain."I'm very impressed by it all," he said of plans for an interpretive learning center. "I hope it comes to fruition very soon."

"It's awesome," said former internee Shig Honda, who was 15 when he first came to Heart Mountain. "I never thought it would happen."Honda said he was against the idea of a center at Heart Mountain when it was first proposed at a 1981 reunion of former internees.

But Honda said he has since changed his mind, and supports the effort as a way to teach young people about past mistakes. For the past seven years, he has spoken to seventh-grade history students in his home state of Washington, Honda said, telling them what life was like in the camp.

"I always tell them one story about when I was 16 and had a chance to play tennis in Cody," Honda said."I wanted a hamburger and a Coke so bad, but there was not a place to eat in town that didn't have a 'No Japs' sign on the door," he said. Honda went into the Irma Hotel anyway, he recalled, but was told, " 'We don't serve Japs.' " **

The hotel has since changed owners."That was our first direct experience with prejudice," he said. "But I got them back."In 1999, I had a chance to go back to Cody, and my wife and I went in and ordered the biggest damn hamburger we could get our hands on," Honda said with a smile."I didn't get mad, I got even."

(End of Article)

Boo-Hoo.

You get the gist of the story and this is written by an employee of the Billings Gazette in Billings Montana? Incredibly one-sided. You'd think Montanans would have a bit more fortitude to stand up to the P.C. Thought Police.

*(Bainbridge Historians Note) German Americans on the east coast and throughout the country were arrested, interned, and in some cases deported.

Almost 11,000 German Americans were interned in the U.S. during World War II. Many German Americans sat, worked, played and went to school in the same camps as their Japanese American counterparts.

Furthermore even before the first person was interned, 600,000 Italian Americans and 300,000 German Americans were deprived of their civil liberties when they (all persons, male and female, age 14 and older) were required to register as "Alien Enemies."

This registration entailed photographing, fingerprinting and the issuance of identification cards which the Alien Enemies had to have on their possession at all times.

In addition they were forbidden to fly; to leave their neighborhoods; to possess cameras, short-wave radio receivers, and firearms. Finally, these persons were required to report any change of employment or address to the Department of Justice.

Why were they not evacuated off the coast? There was no evidence they posed a threat to the extent the ethnic Japanese on the West Coast posed a threat.

Why were ethnic Japanese outside the military exclusion zones not evacuated?

Same reason.

To argue there must be some kind of proportionality between Germans and Japanese because they both happen to be the enemy without acknowledging the extent of the security threat from ethnic Germans compared to ethnic Japanese is questionable logic.

Of course the Japanese American Reperations Movement isn't about logic. It's about emotion, historical manipulation, lies and Japanese Americans failing to come to terms with the darker chapters of their own history, preferring instead to call their neighbors "hysterical racists".

**I wonder if Sakai School will let me tell my stories of living in Japan? I don't dwell on such things like Shig Honda, nor do I intend to put a bunch of 13 year olds on a guilt trip.

It's just too sleazy.

But at a resort in Japan, the 9 year old kid who said to me in Japanese (Get out of the swimming pool you filthy foreigner!)

The 7th graders would like that one! Ha! ha!

Not being served at restaurants, that was so common it didn't even feel strange.

Of course my experiences are recent, not 1942.

Get over it Shig. I have.

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