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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