Seventy-two years ago today, on February 19th, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which led to the internment of more than 110,000 people in Western states, including ours, because they were from Japan or of Japanese ancestry. Before mid-winter break, students from Gatewood Elementary traveled to the historic site on Bainbridge Island formally known as the Japanese American Exclusion Memorial to learn about this. Teacher Darren Radu shared their report and photos:
We are students of Team Mt. Si at Gatewood Elementary. Over the past three months, we have been studying Japanese Internment during World War II. Did you know that as a result of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, many people were suspicious of perfectly innocent Japanese and Japanese Americans, who were then forced to move to internment camps? The camps were terrible places (many cabins were horse and cow stables!) for people to live and the Japanese did not have a choice about moving. Internment affected many residents and families from the Seattle area.
We took a field trip with our teachers Ms. Moran, Ms. Ott, and Mr. Radu to Bainbridge Island to visit the Japanese Internment Memorial. We visited the actual beach where many local Japanese and Japanese Americans boarded ferries that took them to camps. The Memorial helped us to experience what it was like to be in their shoes.
We also met our friend and amazing local artist, Steve Gardner, who showed us some of the ceramic sculptures he created for the memorial.
His work illustrates the lives of Bainbridge Japanese people before, during, and after internment.
We also worked with our teacher Colleen Moran to take a stand on the events of World War II by writing persuasive essays. It was important for us to learn about Japanese Internment because it helped us to learn from the past and to avoid making the same mistakes. We hope that other people will take the time to visit the Internment Memorial and continue to fight for justice, too!
The Students of Team Mt. Si
This HistoryLink.org page shows how what was termed an “evacuation” unfolded in Seattle starting two months after President Roosevelt’s order.