WASHINGTON – On Feb. 19, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, which led to the internment of over 120,000 individuals of Japanese ancestry. Members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) released the following statements Wednesday in observance of the Day of Remembrance:
Rep. Judy Chu (D-Pasadena), CAPAC chair: “The Day of Remembrance sheds light on a shameful period in our nation’s history that led to the internment of over 120,000 innocent Japanese Americans during World War II. This unconscionable policy – rooted in wartime hysteria and racism – reminds us of the need to remain vigilant in protecting the civil rights of all Americans.
“As we commemorate the Day of Remembrance, let us rededicate ourselves to fighting discrimination and injustice whenever it occurs. It is only by reflecting on these dark times that we may learn from our past mistakes and ensure a more just and perfect union.”
Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii): “Seventy two years ago, hundreds of thousands of innocent Japanese Americans were taken from their families and uprooted from their homes. As time passes, we must continue to share their stories and ensure that future generations don’t repeat the mistakes of the past. Part of this commitment is making certain that internment sites across the country are protected and preserved.
“I am dedicated to working with Secretary [Sally] Jewell and the Department of Interior to ensure that these sites, such as Honouliuli Internment Camp on Oahu, continue to serve as solemn reminders of this great injustice.”
Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii): “Today we reflect on a dark period in American history. Thousands of Japanese Americans in Hawaii and across the United States faced discrimination and were forced into internment camps during World War II. In the face of this racism and persecution, Japanese Americans responded with bravery and patriotism.
“This solemn occasion serves as a reminder to us all of the constant need to protect the freedoms and rights of every American. And while we mark the Day of Remembrance with reflection, it is a time to honor Japanese Americans whose courage and strength during this dark time continue to inspire today.”
Rep. Madeleine Bordallo (D-Guam), CAPAC vice chair: “Today, we remember the thousands of Japanese Americans who were stripped of their rights by Executive Order 9066 and forced into internment camps during World War II. While we have made significant progress in combating prejudice and racism in our society, many Americans still struggle with these realities. This day is a stark reminder of the work that remains, and I will continue to work with my colleagues in CAPAC to ensure that all Americans are treated with dignity and equality.”
Rep. Mark Takano (D-Riverside), CAPAC Whip: “Seventy-two years ago today, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive order 9066, which enabled the military to usher in a dark period of interment and oppression. This action stripped 120,000 Japanese Americans, including my own mother and father, of their basic human rights.
“Today, we recognize this day of remembrance to not only pay respect the men, women, and children that were innocent victims of this abhorrent injustice, but to also reinforce the importance of defending our civil liberties. It is our ceaseless duty to protect the rights and freedoms of every American; this will ensure a union that truly stands for equality and justice for all.”
Rep. Mike Honda (D-San Jose), CAPAC chair emeritus: “Today marks the anniversary of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s signing of Executive Order 9066, which authorized the forced removal of 120,000 Japanese, Italian, and German Americans from the West Coast. Executive Order 9066 tore apart communities and families, and destroyed lives. It erased civil liberties, and allowed war hysteria and racial prejudices to cloud the ideals of our nation.
“I spent my childhood, alongside my family, in the Amache internment camp in southeast Colorado. Those experiences have shaped my political beliefs and outlook on life. The purpose of the Day of Remembrance is to preserve the lessons from this shameful chapter of our nation’s history. Across America, we should spend this day remembering the injustices, reflecting on our journeys, and educating our communities so that these mistakes are never repeated.”
Rep. Ami Bera (D-Rancho Cordova): “On this day 72 years ago, more than 120,000 Japanese American citizens were unjustly incarcerated and relocated to internment camps, stripped of their homes, businesses, and basic civil liberties. The anniversary of Executive Order 9066 marks a dark moment in our nation’s history, one which must serve as a reminder that, even in times of crisis, we must remain vigilant in upholding the equal rights of all Americans, regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender, or creed.”
Rep. Eni Faleomavaega (D-American Samoa): “As we remember the internment of more than 120,000 Japanese Americans during World War II, we shed light on one of the darkest periods of our nation’s history – a period in which the hatred and fear bred by war led to the unjust treatment of our own fellow American citizens. May this painful memory of our past always yield to a resolve that such treatment has no place in America’s future.
“We also honor those who, during this period, chose to rise above hatred. The Japanese Americans who served in our military, including the 100th Battalion, 442nd Infantry, and the Military Intelligence Service, are a testament of true patriotism and their service stands as one of our Nation’s proudest achievements.”
Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-Hawaii): “The Day of Remembrance serves as a constant reminder of how ignorance and fear can weaken our nation. This unfortunate chapter in our history is very personal to me, since both of my grandfathers were interned during World War II. On this anniversary, let us reflect on the injustices suffered by Japanese Americans, and ensure these mistakes are never repeated by renewing our commitment to defend the civil liberties of all our citizens.”
Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland): “Seventy-two years ago, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, stripping law-abiding Japanese Americans of their civil liberties and imprisoning them in internment camps. Today, the signing of Executive Order 9066 is rightly recognized as one of the darkest days for justice in our nation’s history.
“The persecution and internment of Japanese Americans during World War II is a reminder that Congress has a responsibility to combat racism and prejudice. This is a responsibility I take personally – and I am proud to work with my colleagues in CAPAC to continue the fight to protect the rights of all Americans.”
Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Sacramento): “Seventy-two years ago, our government, blinded by war and by fear, abandoned the Constitution and violated the civil rights of more than 100,000 Americans of Japanese descent. Today, on this Day of Remembrance, we reflect on the mistakes of our past and commit to ensuring such injustice never again becomes a reality. We must continue to educate each generation about this dark period, because only by raising awareness can we prevent the recurrence of past mistakes.”
Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach): “It was 72 years ago today that President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered the internment of over 120,000 Japanese Americans during World War II. These American citizens were deprived of their liberty simply because of their ethnic background. Even in times of crisis and wartime hysteria, we must never again allow prejudice to throw our Constitution and our American values out the window.
“Today we remember the brave men, women, and children who were so unconscionably mistreated by the country they called home, and renew our commitment to upholding the principles of liberty and equality that make our nation strong.”
Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.): “On the Day of Remembrance, it is critical that we reflect on the importance of civil rights for all Americans. Seventy-two years ago today, President Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066 that led to 120,000 Japanese Americans being uprooted from their homes and communities and forced into internment camps during World War II. This was an extremely dark period of American history where fear and racism led to discrimination and persecution.
“We must learn from this injustice and never allow this history to repeat itself. As we reflect on the past, we are reminded that we must always fight to protect and defend every individual’s civil rights and liberties.”
Rep. Jackie Speier (D-San Mateo): “Nearly 120,000 Japanese Americans were forced from their homes during World War II based simply on their national origin. Almost 8,000 were forced to live in the horse stables at the old Tanforan racetrack in my district, before being carted away to permanent internment camps elsewhere on the West Coast. This is one of the biggest injustices in American history.
“Today’s Day of Remembrance is a time to honor the strength and courage of Japanese Americans during this dark period in history and laude their remarkable contributions to today’s society.”
The Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus is composed of members of Congress of Asian and Pacific Islander descent and members who have a strong dedication to promoting the well-being of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community. Currently chaired by Rep. Judy Chu, CAPAC has been addressing the needs of the AAPI community in all areas of American life since it was founded in 1994.