By Louise Kashino Takisaki
Northwest Asian Weekly
My dedication to support the Nisei Veterans Committee is because of the importance of preserving our history, especially during WWII. Our mission at NVC is to “Honor the Past; Educate the Future.” The history books have included very little on the Japanese incarceration during WWII, so it is my wish that our community help educate the general public about our experiences.
After WWII was declared when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the Japanese community was left in a state of shock, fear, and embarrassment. We questioned what our personal future would be and were concerned of what other acts our country would suffer at the hands of the enemy. Within two months, the President signed Executive Order 9066 declaring the West coast off limits for anyone of Japanese ancestry, and ordered the incarceration of 120,000 persons, two-thirds of whom were American citizens born in the United States.
In March of 1942, the Bainbridge Island Japanese were the first to be sent to California for incarceration, followed by the rest of the communities, and by the middle of May 1942, almost everyone was behind barbed wire. This swift movement without due process of law was a terrible injustice against a group of citizens whose only crime was that we looked like the enemy.
Our parents lost everything they had worked so hard for, and most of all they lost the very spirit they displayed when they first came to this country. Later, as the government realized that we were loyal Americans and not suspect for sabotage, we were slowly allowed to leave the camps if we had somewhere to go.
As the war was talking its toll of casualties, the Government changed its mind about not allowing Nisei in the military, and decided to form a segregated Japanese American combat team and came into the camps to sign up volunteers in February of 1943. My future husband (Shiro Kashino) was among the first to sign up, telling me that by volunteering, he could prove his loyalty and hopefully it would reflect well for the rest of the detainees and allow early release from the concentration camps.
The 442nd Regimental Combat team went on to be outstanding soldiers and displayed tremendous heroics on the battlefields in Europe, and became the most decorated unit in the United States military for its size and length of service.
With the unique experiences forced upon us starting with the incarcerations, it is my wish that our legacy will be preserved and passed on to the future generations, as well as to educate the public for a better understanding of what the Japanese population suffered during WWII, and that such injustices will never again be repeated against another racial group. (end)
(From Louise Kashino Takisaki’s speech accepting her award as a Top Contributor to the Asian Community, presented by the NW Asian Weekly on December 5, 2014 at House of Hong restaurant.)