S.F. Day of Remembrance: ‘Never Again!’

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Refusing to cooperate with their rendition from Tule Lake to Santa Fe, these men were forcibly moved. (Photo by R.H. Ross)

Refusing to cooperate with their rendition from Tule Lake to Santa Fe, these men were forcibly moved. (Photo by R.H. Ross)

SAN FRANCISCO — Bay Area Day of Remembrance Consortium presents “Day of Remembrance 2014: Never Again! Indefinite Detention — Rendition — Torture” on Saturday, Feb. 22, from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Sundance Kabuki Cinema, Post and Fillmore streets in San Francisco Japantown.

Co-emceed by Judi Nihei and Rev. Michael Yoshii, the program will feature Wayne Merrill Collins as keynote speaker, Shirley Muramoto on koto, a performance by fifth-graders from the Japanese Bilingual Bicultural Program at Rosa Parks Elementary School, musician and historian George Yoshida, Okinawan music by Berkeley Genyu Kai, and the traditional candle-lighting ceremony, emceed by Aya Ino and Haruka Rodenbush.

Wayne Merrill Collins and his late father, Wayne Mortimer Collins (1899-1974), both lawyers, worked on legal cases involving the internment, including Japanese American internees who had renounced their U.S. citizenship and Japanese Latin Americans forcibly brought to the U.S., as well as the case of Iva Toguri D’Aquino, who was accused of being “Tokyo Rose.”

Following the program, a reception with light refreshments will be held at the Japanese Culutural and Community Center of Northern California, 1840 Sutter St.

Admission free, but reservations required. Info: (415) 921-5007.

Bay Area DOR Consortium’s Statement

Over the last three decades, in communities throughout California and major cities nationwide, Day of Remembrance (DOR) has been commemorated on or near Feb. 19, when, in 1942, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, setting into motion the exclusion, eviction, and incarceration of 120,000 persons of Japanese ancestry, both citizens and immigrants.

DOR events, along with the pilgrimages to former concentration camps and, on a national scale, the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians (CWRIC) public hearings in 1981, played a key role in uniting the Japanese American community around the redress and reparations movement. These events and experiences brought the story to broader audiences and popularized the call for an official governmental apology, individual redress, and a community/public education fund, for the ultimate purpose of preventing a similar injustice from happening again.

Locally, the Bay Area DOR Consortium has come together every year to present an educational and cultural commemoration so that the public may remember this historic injustice, support unfinished redress issues (e.g., proper redress for Japanese Latin Americans; restoring the public education funds) and more recently, to learn about related World War II injustices experienced by German and Italian Americans and their implications for civil and human rights struggles.

For the Japanese American community, the annual Day of Remembrance has been an important part of the healing and reconciliation process for former internees and their families. It has also allowed the community to confront important issues, such as how the government incarcerated 120,000 men, women, and children without any charges, the hardships of these desert camps, and the decades-long grassroots campaign to win a governmental apology, symbolic reparations payments, and educational funds (Civil Liberties Act of 1988).

The Day of Remembrance has also served as an inspiring community organizing and educational focal point over the years and a timely reminder for the American public to remain vigilant for similar violations, and to speak out when they occur. One of our slogans over the decades has been “Never Again!” to such incarceration, for any group of people. In this post-9/11 era, it is with a deep sense of anguish that we have seen similar kinds of civil and human rights violations repeating themselves, with the government now targeting Arabs and Muslims as “the enemy.”

Increasingly, as we are witnessing similar tragedies taking place throughout the world, the Bay Area Day of Remembrance events have evolved into a unique opportunity for Nikkei to join with diverse communities to reaffirm our common belief in the importance of civil and human rights and to remind us of our collective ability to act upon that belief.

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