WWII internee relates experience to terror backlash

By MELISSA ARNOLD State Journal Staff Writer Published:

"I knew of Frankfort when I was in high school, because I had to memorize all of the states' capitals just like you all probably have to," Japanese-American poet Lawson Inada told Franklin County High School students in a school-wide assembly in remembrance of Sept. 11.

Air Force Junior ROTC members started the ceremony by presenting the colors and reading the names of FCHS alumni and a teacher who are serving in the military.

Inada was there to talk to the students about the acceptance of others by relating his experience of being a 4-year-old Japanese-American boy in an internment camp in 1942 during World War II to the treatment of Muslims after Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

He was born in 1938 in Fresno, Calif. On Feb. 19, 1942 President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed an order for those of Japanese descent to be locked up in internment camps. Inada and his parents, despite the fact his parents were second-generation Americans and he was third generation, were held in Fresno's processing camp and then sent to an internment camp in Arkansas. By the end of the war they were in a camp in Colorado, he said.

"I hope (the students) will get some kind of greater understanding that they can't get off movies and TV from my speech," he said. "It helps to have a live situation instead of a history book and being here allows me to relate on a personal basis. I appreciate the opportunity to reach some kids."

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