I would like to thank Grant Ujifusa for providing important information to your readers regarding the Kazuo Masuda story. Mr. Ujifusa’s information is correct that Gov. Thomas Kean was pivotal in bringing the story to President Reagan’s attention.
What I said at the Manzanar Pilgrimage was simply that in his remarks at the bill signing, President Reagan credited Rose Ochi with bringing the story to his attention.
What is most important in this discussion is that we not lose sight of the main lessons and responsibilities of the Japanese American redress experience. It is the story of a community finding the strength to voice its demand for recognition and a nation’s courage to atone for its past mistakes.
With such lessons, however, comes responsibility. We have the responsibility to continue to tell the story of those not recognized by the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, like the Japanese Latin Americans.
We have the responsibility to be proactive in fighting for the civil rights of people regardless of the color of their skin, the country of their origin, which God they worship, or whom they choose to love.
We have the responsibility to make sure that the experiences of our Issei and Nisei are not forgotten.
As Japanese Americans, we know the pain of injustice; we also know the validation that a presidential apology brings. With that in mind, my message at Manzanar was that the lessons of the redress movement must continue to fuel the fight for justice and equality for all.
Mitchell T. Maki