Foundations for Writing

SCSU Site for English 191

Why a Smithsonian exhibit on Japanese-Americans and World War II is coming to Stearns


The article title appearing on today’s St. Cloud Times is “Smithsonian exhibit details an ‘injustice’: Display tells stories of Japanese Americans’ Internment,” and the lead describes the personal history of Sally Sudo, now an Edina resident.

ST. CLOUD —  Sally Sudo was among hundreds of thousands of Japanese Americans and Japanese nationals incarcerated in U.S. internment camps during World War II.

At six years old, Sudo and her family were forcibly removed from their home in Seattle and incarcerated until Aug. 18, 1945. The 83-year-old Edina resident spent first, second and third grade in an internment camp.

The Stearns History Museum is showcasing stories like hers by hosting “Righting a Wrong: Japanese Americans and World War II.”

The traveling Smithsonian Institution exhibit opens Sept. 3 with images, personal stories and objects from people incarcerated at internment camps. The museum will also include local exhibits from the era.

One image of the traveling exhibit shows the Mochida family, wearing identification tags,
as they wait for a bus. The family was forced to leave their nursery and greenhouse
operation in Eden, California in May 1942. (Photo: Dorothea Lange, Courtesy of National Archives)

I encourage you to visit this local exhibit, which will be in St. Cloud from September 3rd-January 5th. The cost for adults is $7.

The article also reports on Japanese Americans who were removed from camps and brought  to Minnesota to Camp Savage, which “was chosen as the Japanese language training facility for U.S. troops in World War II.” Many (and their relatives) “in Stearns County stayed in the area because their relatives came in the service during World War II. ”

This story has reminded me of Jerry (Jiro) Katayama, my father’s best friend. Jerry was a decorated Nisei (second generation Japanese American) who served in Military Intelligence in Leyte (an island in the Phillipines) and Okinawa during World War II while his family was incarcerated in a Japanese internment camp in California. His family lost everything. I’ve been thinking a lot about Jerry recently as immigrants at our southern borders have been incarcerated in camps (and one Japanese internment camp was almost used to house these immigrants). George Takei has also talked a lot about the internment recently too, linking it to current treatment of immigrants. Takei’s graphic novel memoir, They Called Us Enemy, tells the story of his family’s incarceration after Pearl Harbor and their experiences after the camps closed.

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