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New Exhibit! At Willamette Heritage Center in #SalemOR:

tanaka-163x300WILLAMETTE HERITAGE CENTER, GO FOR BROKE NATIONAL EDUCATION CENTER TO DEBUT TRAVELING EXHIBIT ON WWII JAPANESE AMERICAN EXPERIENCE

“Courage and Compassion: Our Shared Story of the Japanese American WWII Experience”

Opening is Friday, July 14, 2017  –  runs through September, 2017

Willamette Heritage Center (1313 Mill Street SE, Salem)

WHC and the Go For Broke National Education Center to get the word out about the traveling exhibit — Salem is the first stop of a national tour.

The exhibit will chronicle the story of the Japanese American experience during WWII, and feature local stories of bravery and tolerance from the Willamette Valley. The GFBNEC exhibit is funded in part by a 2016 grant administered by the National Park Service (NPS).

The exhibition will reflect on the Japanese American experience from wartime incarceration and postwar resettlement to the redress movement that resulted in the Civil Liberties Act of 1988. The interactive exhibit, designed by Quatrefoil Associates, will feature images and audio of firsthand accounts, including interviews of Japanese American soldiers from GFBNEC’s Hanashi Oral History Collection.

One of the local stories is about the incident at Lake Labish after the bombing of Pearl Harbor where a Mob from the American legion set out to burn the Japanese American church in Labish, but was stopped by five pastors, one a WWI veteran himself.

There are also audio-video histories from local residents, including Georgette Yoshikai, who was living in Bothell, Washington at the time: “Our neighbor came running up the hill and of course we didn’t think too much of it, because you know we’re citizens, we belong here, at least we thought we did. The next day the school bus driver refused to pick her and her sister up. The next day at school when they entered her teacher said, ‘Oh, here come the Japs.’ I lost it, it I wasn’t used to that kind of treatment, especially in the classroom.”

Or Emi Yada Somekawa, a nurse who remembered, “Oh that was horrible. That was horrible. We thought, what in the world’s gonna happen to us? ‘Course, we’re American citizens, we’re born here, we have a Constitution. But we still didn’t know what was gonna happen, until 19th of February. Then President Roosevelt just asked all the Japanese and all the descendants of the Japanese to be evacuated. It was a blow.”

Willamette Student Hideto Tomita remembered the WU football team was in Hawaii. “You do realize that we had a football team over in Hawaii? Well a lot of my friends, I had quite a few friends on that team. They had quite an experience. Fortunately, none of them were in any real danger, but they were stuck in Hawaii for awhile. Finally, the only way that they could get back were as aids on an Army wounded ship being sent from Hawaii back to the mainland. So they were taking care of those guys to get passage home.”

Tats Yada recalled, “When we had to leave, the day we left, we sold our car to an insurance agent who was a friend of ours who took care of our insurance and I don’t know what we got paid for the car, but I know he came down and got the car and took us to the railroad station. And I think that, most of the people down there, the friends took them or their hired help cause we couldn’t drive, we could just carry our own baggage. And when the train come in, there was probably 75-100 people there, people that we didn’t know, or we knew slightly or church people that came to send us off ’cause they were sad to see this thing happen. I know we got boxes of apples, a lot of goodies, they said take it with you. We were able to put those on the train and it probably took us,”

 

 

LOS ANGELES and [SALEM, OREGON] (June 1, 2017)—The Willamette Heritage Center is proud to announce it will host the debut of a new national traveling exhibition by Go For Broke National Education Center (GFBNEC), “Courage and Compassion: Our Shared Story of the Japanese American WWII Experience,” The exhibition will open July 14, 2017 and run through September, 2017.

The exhibit will chronicle the story of the Japanese American experience during WWII, and feature local stories of bravery and tolerance from the Willamette Valley. The  GFBNEC exhibit is funded in part by a 2016 grant administered by the National Park Service (NPS).

The exhibition will reflect on the Japanese American experience from wartime incarceration and postwar resettlement to the redress movement that resulted in the Civil Liberties Act of 1988. The interactive exhibit, designed by Quatrefoil Associates, will feature images and audio of firsthand accounts, including interviews of Japanese American soldiers from GFBNEC’s Hanashi Oral History Collection.

Despite the hostile climate following the Pearl Harbor attack, some Willamette Valley locals and leaders spoke up in support of their Japanese American friends. From farmers who helped their incarcerated neighbors save their crops to a local Senator who braved political backlash to suggest that Japanese Americans might remain loyal to the U.S., these individual voices of conscience deserve to be remembered today.

In addition to telling the national story, the exhibit will feature interviews with local residents, and artifacts documenting experiences. Visitors will get a chance to see materials from the Tanaka family’s restaurant and read the advertisement Frank Tanaka took out in a local magazine declaring his loyalty despite the threats and vandalism he had experienced.  “I am an American, too,” he wrote.

“The exhibit honors everyday people who rose above the public hysteria of WWII to recognize Japanese Americans as friends, neighbors and citizens,” Dr. Mitchell T. Maki, GFBNEC’s President and Chief Executive Officer, said. “These untold stories have real relevance today as we debate issues of loyalty, citizenship, due process and Constitutional rights.”

Bob Reinhardt, Executive Director of the Willamette Heritage Center, said, “The WHC is thrilled and honored to be chosen as a site for the ‘Courage and Compassion’ traveling exhibit from the Go For Broke National Education Center. We are excited to work with the Go For Broke National Education Center and community partners in the Mid-Willamette Valley to tell both national and local stories of Japanese Americans during World War II and the communities that supported them.

“This exhibit provides not only a dramatic and impressive educational experience, but also the opportunity for the community to engage in meaningful dialogue about a vital and relevant story that deserves more attention and understanding. We are grateful for the opportunity to participate in this discussion, and we look forward to welcoming the exhibit.”

Through summer 2019, the exhibit will visit 10 U.S. communities where citizens extended a helping hand to Japanese Americans during and after the turbulent days of WWII. In the wake of the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, many U.S. officials and residents viewed Japanese Americans with fear and mistrust. Japanese Americans were targets for harassment and discrimination, and families on the West Coast were forcibly removed to government incarceration camps.

About Go For Broke National Education Center

Go For Broke National Education Center (GFBNEC) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit foundation that educates the public on the valor of Japanese American veterans of World War II and their contributions to democracy. Our goal is to inspire new generations to embody the Nisei veterans’ core values of courage, sacrifice, equality, humility and patriotism. Founded in 1989, GFBNEC maintains the Go For Broke monument and the interactive “GFBNEC’s Defining Courage Exhibition”  in downtown Los Angeles, as well as extensive oral histories and archives, education and training programs, and other initiatives. For more information, please visit www.goforbroke.org.

About the Willamette Heritage Center

The Willamette Heritage Center (WHC) is a private, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization formed from the merger of the Mission Mill Museum and the Marion County Historical Society. It continues their legacy through a mission to preserve and interpret the history of the Mid-Willamette Valley. WHC promotes diversity and prohibits discrimination on the basis of age, color, creed, disability, gender identity, national/ethnic origin, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, veteran/uniform status, and all other classifications protected by law. WHC is not owned or operated by any government agency and is supported through grant funding, private donations, business operations, and its membership. To become a member, visit https://www.willametteheritage.org/membership/.

About the NPS JACS Program

This project is funded, in part, by a grant from the U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Japanese American Confinement Site Grant Program. For more information regarding the JCAS grant program, please contact Kara Miyagishima, Program Manager, Japanese American Confinement Sites Grant Program, NPS, at 303/969-2885.

Media Contacts:

For GFBNEC: Gil Asakawa, gil@nikkeiview.com, 720-232-3509
For Willamette Heritage Center: Jenna Wyatt, jennaw@willametteheritage.org, 503-585-7012

Exhibit Is Supported by National Park Service Grant

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