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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Eye On Olympia

House, Senate honor Japanese-American internees and veterans…

Some emotional speeches this morning in the House and Senate, which honored Japanese-American war veterans and the roughly 12,000 Japanese-American citizens who were rounded up and herded into internment camps in 1942 under Franklin D. Roosevelt's Executive Order 9066.

The House passed House Resolution 2009-4617 this morning on the 67th anniversary of Roosevelt's signing the internment order. The resolution honors the veterans' and internees' "patience, heroism, sacrifice and patriotic loyalty." Watching from the gallery were Japanese-American veterans who served as translators in the Pacific and infantrymen in Europe, as well as people who spent the war behind barbed wire in camps like Idaho's Minidoka.

Decades later, Congress declared that there was no military or security reason for uprooting the thousands of Japanese families from their farms, homes and businesses. The move, Congress said, could be attributed to bigotry, war hysteria "and a failure of political leadership."

Sen. Chris Marr, D-Spokane, noted that some neighbors and friends stood by the immigrants, sending books for children in the camps, or writing regularly to the interned families, or keeping pets and property for their return several years later. Still, he said, the internment of U.S. citizens "serves to diminish us all as Americans."

Sen. Steve Hobbs, who like Marr is Japanese-American, said it was absurd for 70-year-old grandmothers and 10-year-old girls to be considered enemies of the state. And he praised the heroism of Japanese-American military intelligence specialists and the Army's famous 442nd Regimental Combat Team, made up of Japanese-American soldiers, many recruited from the internment camps. (Among the veterans of the latter unit: Spokane's Fred Shiosaki.)

From the Seattle Times, March 30, 1942, front page: "Tears, Smiles Mingle as Japs Bid Bainbridge Farewell":

There were mothers with babies in arms, aged patriarchs with faltering steps, high school boys and girls, and some children, too young to realize the full import of the occasion. The youngsters frolicked about, treating the evacuation as a happy excursion.


Short takes and breaking news from the Washington Legislature and the state capital.