From THE WAR Episode 1:
SAM HYNES: I went to Seattle in 1942. One memory is very clear and strong. It’s a Saturday and I’m taking a bus into the center of town and across the public square in front of the town hall I guess it is. And I see ahead of me a line of people standing patiently by a bus stop. And as I approach I see that they’re all Japanese and that they’re getting onto buses. And I realize that these are the Japanese-American citizens of Seattle and the neighborhood who are being sent off to what amounted to a concentration camp. And I think, well, those are my enemies. But they don’t look like enemies standing there in their American clothes with their cardboard suitcases waiting to be sent off into the desert.
MUSIC: Sacramento B, Wynton Marsalis
NARRATOR: On February 19, 1942, President Roosevelt had signed Executive Order 9066. Its tone was carefully neutral: It authorized the War Department to designate “military areas” and then exclude anyone from them whom it felt to be a danger. But it had a specific target: the more than 110,000 Japanese-Americans, living along the West Coast. They were about to be forced from their homes and moved inland. Thousands of German and Italian aliens were also locked up, but millions of German and Italian-American citizens remained free to live their lives as they always had. Only Japanese-Americans on the West Coast were singled out. “A Jap’s a Jap,” said General John L. DeWitt, of the West Coast Defense Command. “It makes no difference whether he is an American citizen or not. I don’t want any of them.” Almost no one protested the government’s plan, which also classified all Japanese Americans as unfit for military service.
DANIEL INOUYE: 1-A is physically fit and 4-F, something’s wrong with you, but 4-C means enemy alien. And here I was, seventeen years of age, I considered myself a good American but made into an enemy.
MUSIC: Akita Sugagaki, Kohachiro Miyata
NARRATOR: In Sacramento, soon after Order 9066 was issued, hand-lettered signs went up all over town, saying “Japs must go.” The orders to leave arrived in May. Susumu Satow and his family could scarcely believe it. They were given one week’s notice.
SUSUMU SATOW: It was middle of the harvest and, but still, yet we had to a, abandon it and leave. And so, of course, we made arrangement with our friends. Hey, come and pick the strawberries because it’s ready to be marketed. And so, I imagine they did that.
BURT WILSON: There was an area of town here in Sacramento that was mostly where the Japanese lived. And it was empty almost overnight. And we wondered, you know, what happened? They took somebody out of eighth grade, a Japanese boy who did wonderful cartoons. His name was Sammy. And one day he was there and the next day he was gone. And that was very difficult for us to understand because we didn’t see Sammy or any Japanese, at least I didn’t, any Japanese-American as the enemy.
SUSUMU SATOW: We were allowed to bring whatever you could carry. That’s it. And so, you put just essentials in your suitcase. You know, first day, when we had to pack up our things and go to the train. I really wondered what’s going to happen to us. You know, that this is just the beginning and they may very well send us back to Japan. And that, to me, was horrible. I, in my heart, knew my loyalty belongs to America. I went to school, pledged allegiance every morning in grammar school and so forth. And for me to think that I may be sent to Japan was, was horrendous.
NARRATOR: Asako Tokuno was still a freshman at Berkeley that spring. Her parents and her grandfather were evacuated first because they had been born in Japan. She and her sister were left behind for a time to close the family flower business.
ASAKO TOKUNO: We all somehow gathered the flowers, bunched them and got them to the market, to the flower market in San Francisco. And so we were able to keep the business going. And all those flowers didn’t go to waste, you know. They were just in the height of their beauty at that time of the year, getting ready for Easter and all the holidays. We were really kind of caught in the middle when the War happened, although no question about our loyalty to our country. You know. And how we felt. This is our country. And when, this whole evacuation thing happened. I mean, it was like we had no country, because we weren’t from Japan and, and they took away our, our rights, actually. We couldn’t protest, and we wouldn’t have protested because we had to do what the government told us to do. And so, uh, I think our parents realized, of course they were, you know, not citizens, so they accepted the whole thing. But for us, I think it was a lot harder. The fact that we had no rights.