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A Defining Time for the Japanese-American People

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Ruben Garcia

Ms. Lisowski

H-English 10 A

14 December 2014

A Defining Time for the Japanese-American People

        There was a period of time in this nation’s history in which it’s ideology that “All men are created equal” was compromised. Our country, as a whole, defied human ethic and stripped many Japanese Americans of their basic rights of existence. On December 7th, 1941 the Japanese Navy launched a military attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. These events led the United States to enter World War II and combat Japan and other European nations. Increasing paranoia and fear of espionage from Japanese-Americans living in the Western U.S. led the government to order the removal and internment of these people in camps scattered across the country. These so-called “camps” were accommodated with terrible living standards. They lacked basic things such as privacy and hygiene, which challenged the Japanese as a whole. As a community, these people were broken because their identities were torn apart from them. They were constantly tormented by the deplorable conditions the camps were in. The long-term internment had drastic effects on the people, which caused lots of tension. As time progressed, they grew strong as one and adapted a new lifestyle which included much better infrastructure, compassion, and above all: forgiveness. 

        The conditions of these camps were absolutely deplorable and everyday was a practical struggle to survive for these people. The camps were said to have had “ no plumbing or cooking facilities and there was little privacy: both showers and latrines were open. Poor sanitation and inadequate food and medical care were common” (Candela, sec.5).  The struggle was real for these people. Simple tasks such as using the restroom proved to be very demeaning because of the serious lack of privacy. Just imagine what a nightmare it was to simply bathe after a hard day’s work! Nonetheless “The camps became like small towns, and internees tried to use their time productively: Children went to school, and adults worked at camp jobs” ( Candela,sec.5).  The Japanese remained resilient , no matter what was thrown at them. They took this and they learned to adapt and live with these horrid conditions.

        Also, In the camps, anything that could be used as a potential resource was greatly valued since everything was so limited to them. People let nothing of potential use get thrown away. All of the little things were enjoyed vastly. One author stated ,“Although internees were allowed to buy goods via mail-order catalogs, the little money they had was generally set aside for clothing and other essentials; buying almost anything else was considered a luxury. As a result, internees scrounged for scraps of every kind: Waxy string from onion sacks was unraveled and woven into baskets. Old toothbrush handles were turned into pendants. Gallon-sized mayonnaise jars became miniature display cases for fragile pieces of art. Tin cans were converted into toy trains. Peach pits were scraped smooth against cement and gouged in the center to make rings. Produce crates were chopped into blocks and carved into bird pins. Even meat bones, gnawed clean during dinner, were crosscut into circles and linked together through the softer marrow portion to create jewelry. Nothing was viewed as waste” (Hirasuna,par.11). They were smart and adapted to these bad conditions in the best way possible and developed a keen sense of appreciated what very little they had.



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