MONTEREY — It was an apology 76 years in the making.
During a ceremony on Feb. 13 to mark the anniversary of the federal executive order that led to the World War II internment camps, the Monterey County Board of Supervisors presented resolutions to members of the regional Japanese American community that included a formal apology for the incarceration and the suffering and losses those families endured.
Luis Alejo, chair of the board, says it is the first apology to Japanese American residents by any Central Coast government.
The ceremony began with an explanation of why the formal apology was needed, including a special program by local historian Sandy Lydon, who provided a tutorial through the sad history of the camps. Some 3,500 residents from the Monterey Bay region were forced to relocate, losing their liberty, homes and businesses.
Alejo showed the assembled crowd the county’s original resolution supporting Executive Order 9066, noting that the language used to condemn Japanese Americans those many years ago was hurtful, making it painful to read.
While a previous Board of Supervisors rescinded that support, no apology was ever given. Alejo presented representatives with resolutions acknowledging past events and offering apologies for the county’s support of those actions.
Well-known community leaders such as Gary Tanimura and Mas Hashimoto shared their families’ experiences of the hardships both in the camps and after returning to rebuild.
Each supervisor took a moment to share his or her feelings and offer a personal apology. For the recipients of these resolutions, the ceremony was deeply meaningful.
Hashimoto, a teacher who has seen several current board members in his schoolroom over the years, says the apology is critical not only for healing old wounds but also to learn from mistakes so that they are not repeated.
To see a video of the ceremony, go to: http://monterey.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=5
In Alameda County, the City of Alameda proclaimed a Day of Remembrance on Feb. 20 and recognized six local Japanese Americans. For the full story, click here.