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WWII Veterans Reflect On Japanese American Internment

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Grant Ichikawa, a Japanese American veteran of WWII, accepts a Patriotism Award from NJAMF Chairman Craig Uchida, on behalf of the Military Intelligence Service.
Jonathan Wilson
Grant Ichikawa, a Japanese American veteran of WWII, accepts a Patriotism Award from NJAMF Chairman Craig Uchida, on behalf of the Military Intelligence Service.

Japanese Americans are celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Japanese American World War II Memorial in Washington. Some local Japanese American World War II veterans honored today say their experience and struggle back then is very relevant today.

The veterans--all former members of the Military Intelligence Service during World War II--gathered at the JW Marriott Hotel as the National Japanese American Memorial Foundation honored their service.

Almost all who were honored today are Japanese Americans themselves, and decades after the war, their complex feelings about fighting the country of their ancestry are still evident. Yukio Kawamoto, 90, now lives in Springfield, Va., but grew up in California.

He says two months after the Pearl Harbor attacks, he was drafted into the army, and two months after that, his parents were incarcerated and eventually sent to a camp in Topaz, Utah.

"They threw...my parents into a camp. They drafted me to the army, and I was supposed to fight for the country where they threw my parents into a camp," Kawamoto says.

Stan Falk also served in the MIS. He's not a Japanese American, but he says the internment camps aren't something the country can afford to forget--because it could happen again.

"It could [happen again]because what happened then is a product of hysteria, fear," Falk says. "And when hysteria and fear take over, it can lead to all sorts of problems."

It wasn't until 1988, under President Ronald Reagan, that the U.S. Government formally apologized for the treatment of Japanese Americans during World War II.

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