Four Hirabayashi Cousins: A Question of Identity by James Hirabayashi

The sudden onset of World War II on December 7th 1941 thrust the issue of identity to the forefront for all Japanese Americans. On February 19, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 authorizing the War Department to prescribe military areas from which any or all persons may be excluded.  This order served as the basis for Lt. General John L. DeWitt to issue the curfew and exclusion orders.  Public Proclamation No. 3 established a curfew from 8:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. for Japanese Americans in Military Area No. 1 and requiring them to stay within a five-mile radius of their homes.  The implementation of the exclusion order began on March 24, 1942, and by October, 1942, all Japanese Americans were removed from the West Coast incarcerated in hastily constructed concentration camps, also known as relocations centers. Download and read the complete document...

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Position Paper

From: The Pinedale Assembly Center Memorial Project Committee, a joint committee of the Central California Nikkei Foundation and the Central California District Council of the Japanese American Citizens League To: Fresno City Council Re: Designation of Building 8 located at 7435 N. Ingram Avenue, Fresno, to the Local Register of Historic Resources The Historic Preservation Commission unanimously voted to nominate Building 8 to the Fresno City Council for designation to the Local Register of Historic Resources on November 28, 2005. The Fresno City Council will conduct a public hearing to consider the designation on January 10, 2006. Building 8 has historic significance due to its use as a warehouse by the Sugar Pine Lumber Company and its inclusion in the Pinedale Assembly Center and Camp Fresno during World War II. Building 8 is part of the site acquired by the Army on March 22, 1942. The primary interest of the Pinedale Assembly Center Memorial Committee (“Committee”) is in the use of the site as an assembly center to intern 4823 Americans of Japanese ancestry from May 7, 1942, to July 23, 1942. It is part of a larger story of the internment of Japanese Americans during the War, the story of the Japanese American soldiers who fought in World War II to prove their loyalty to America and the struggle for redress, which resulted in a Presidential apology and recognition of the rights of Japanese Americans as citizens of this great country. Within the context of this broader story, the site has local, state and national historic significance. The Committee does not want to impede the developer’s plans to demolish the building so long as an appropriate memorial is established on the site with interpretive materials to explain the historic significance of the site. The California Office of Historic Preservation has reserved California Historic Landmark No. 934 for the Pinedale Assembly Center, a temporary detention camp for Japanese Americans as a first phase of the mass incarceration of 97,785 Californians of Japanese ancestry during World War II. This is compelling if not conclusive evidence that the site has state historic significance. Pursuant to Executive Order No. 9066 signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on February 19, 1942, thirteen makeshift detention facilities were constructed at various California racetracks, fairgrounds and labor camps. These facilities were intended to confine Japanese Americans until more permanent concentration camps, such as those at Manzanar and Tule Lake in California, could be built in isolated areas of the country. Beginning on March 30, 1942, all native-born Americans and long-time legal residents of Japanese ancestry living along the West Coast were ordered to surrender themselves for detention. The Pinedale Assembly Center was used to intern residents...

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Honorable James A. Ardaiz Speech

[Speech given February 19, 2007, by the Honorable James A. Ardaiz, Presiding Justice of the Court of Appeal, Fifth Appellate District, at the groundbreaking ceremony for Remembrance Plaza concerning the Pinedale Assembly Center] Sixty-five years ago today this spot where we now stand was part of mostly barren land on the outskirts of the small San Joaquin valley community of Fresno and the much smaller community of Pinedale. At that time, to envision that it would have any significant place in the history of this country would not be conceived of by anybody. Sixty-five years ago it was simply one more patch of alkaline soil in what were then endless acres of valley land. On that day so long ago, our country was pitched in war. All of the chaos, suspicion, fear, courage, cowardice, nobility of spirit and failure of resolve that are part of such conflict confronted us. We can look back now on our victory in World War II as symbolic of noble human endeavor―of sacrifice, of courage and of triumph. But we can also look back on that time as bringing upon our nation a failure of character. On this day in 1942, President Franklin Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, setting in motion events unparalleled in our history, ultimately setting these few acres apart from the prairies, mountains and valleys of this nation and making this patch of ground a place to be remembered by succeeding generations. As a consequence of Executive Order 9066 over 120,000 residents of the United States of Japanese descent, most citizens by birth, many from our own community, all caught up in the maelstrom of war, were detained and incarcerated in the name of national security, tarred with groundless whispers of suspected disloyalty. Four thousand eight hindered and twenty-three were brought here, others to the Fresno fairgrounds or to Santa Anita racetrack or to the Tulare fairgrounds or to other such places that could be used to house and control large groups of people in stables and tar papered barracks. They came here because of hate and suspicion and bigotry. They walked through the gates voluntarily in response to the orders of their government with young soldiers standing guard with bared bayonets. They remained involuntarily from May until July of 1942 before they were scattered to permanent detention centers with names like Manzanar, Jerome, Poston and Heart Mountain. Out of these detention centers came the noble endeavors of the 100th Infantry Battalion of Hawaii and the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, both forged from young Japanese American men, many of whom left their parents in those detention centers to volunteer to fight to prove their loyalty, whose exploits became the stuff of...

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DOR ground-breaking remarks

By: Dale Ikeda Feb. 19, 2007 Good morning. On behalf of the Pinedale Assembly Center Memorial project committee, let me add my welcome to this Day of Remembrance marking the 65th anniversary of Executive Order No. 9066. Our theme is “hate, healing, honor and hope.” In the aftermath of the attack on Pearl Harbor by the empire of Japan, fear, suspicion and hatred was mis-directed towards Americans of Japanese ancestry and resulted in their unjust internment by their own government for nearly three years in violation of their constitutional rights. The passage of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 providing for a presidential apology to the internees went a long ways to help heal old wounds. This memorial is to honor the Issei and Nisei, the first- and second-generation Japanese Americans, for their perseverance, sacrifice and courage. They kept faith in the American dream, proved their loyalty to this great country and paved the way for a better future for their children and future generations. This memorial will serve as a reminder of the injustice of the past, which we hope will avoid similar mistakes now and in the future. The memorial will be known as “Remembrance Plaza.” At today’s ground-breaking ceremony, we will dedicate California Registered Historical Landmark No. 934. That will represent a down payment on the committee’s promise to participate in this project with the city of Fresno. Paul Saito will have more to say about the design of Remembrance Plaza next. The project and the historical significance of the site has been unanimously recognized and approved by the Fresno Historic Preservation Commission, planning commission and city council. The committee especially thanks the city council for its strong support of this project. That support gave the committee the leverage and encouragement to press forward. We believe the current plan is respectful of the history of the site, is located in a prominent place and will permit the community to remember the history the site represents. Remembrance Plaza will include an interpretive wall telling a truly American story of a group of Americans triumph over adversity. A storyboard will include the issuance of Executive Order No. 9066 and the forced removal of over 120,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry from the west coast and their detention during World War II. A storyboard will describe the exploits of the Nisei (second-generation Japanese Americans) who volunteered from America’s concentration camps to fight for freedon in Europe and the Pacific. A storyboard will explain the constitutional issues internment raised. In the Korematsu case, the United States Supreme Court upheld the policy of internment on the grounds of “military necessity.” Although Fred Korematsu’s criminal conviction was vacated in the 1980’s the supreme...

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JAs Fight for Memorial at Former Pinedale Assembly Center

By Caroline Aoyagi-Stom, Pacific Citizen Executive Editor Published February 3, 2006 The dilapidated warehouse located on the northwest side of Fresno, Calif. may not look like much for the everyday passersby but for Jim Hirabayashi the building holds historic significance not only for his family but for tens of thousands of Japanese Americans. For almost three months following the start of World War II this location was home for Hirabayashi, then 15, along with his parents and three siblings. The area was then known as the Pinedale Assembly Center, a temporary holding area for 4,823 JAs. Eventually they would head to Tule Lake, one of ten internment camps scattered across the Western States. “It was kind of strange to be locked up. It was hot and dusty,” said Hirabayashi who still remembers the train ride to Pinedale, his first-ever. “Right away our family life just broke apart,” he said, noting the lack of privacy and the dissolution of the core-family environment he had been used to. Today, the owners of the warehouse want to tear it down to make room for office buildings. But before demolition can begin, the local JA community wants the area declared a California Historical Landmark and have asked owner Granum Partners and the city of Fresno to help remember the former Pinedale residents by building a permanent memorial. “It’s very important that this memorial be something that teaches the future generation of what happened and why,” said Hirabayashi, 79. His older brother Gordon is well known for refusing to be interned and taking his fight all the way to the Supreme Court. “This memorial is important because of the historical lesson on racism — it isn’t over by a long shot.” The JACL Central California District and the Central California Nikkei Foundation have formed the Pinedale Assembly Center Memorial Project Committee and attended a Jan. 10 Fresno City Council meeting to discuss the proposed California Historical Landmark status for the former assembly center. The Fresno Historic Preservation Commission has already approved the nomination of the site to the local register of historic resources. The city council will revisit the issue Feb. 28 after Granum Partners asked for an extension. “The memorial is a reminder that in times of national stress there is a tendency to value civil liberties less and make compromises,” said Dale Ikeda, a Superior Court Judge, and chair of the memorial committee. He noted the similarities between the JA story and the events following the Sept. 11 attacks. “The issues are still relevant.” The proposed Pinedale Memorial has garnered the support of several city councilmembers including District 2 Councilman Brian Calhoun whose area encompasses Pinedale. “I think it’s a good idea....

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Presiding Justice Ardaiz speech to bar attorneys

TODAY YOU WILL BE SWORN IN AS LAWYERS—A MUCH MALIGNED AND MUCH MISUNDERSTOOD PROFESSION. YOU WILL NOW JOIN THE RANKS OF A GROUP THAT HAS JOKES MADE ABOUT IT, MOST OF WHICH INV0LVE THE DEMISE OF LAWYERS AS A SOCIATAL IMPROVEMENT. “WHAT DO YOU CALL FIFTY LAWYERS CHAINED TOGETHER AT THE BOTTOM OF THE OCEAN? A GOOD START.” Click here to read the remaining speech as a PDF...

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