“Don’t go near the fence,” is what many Japanese and Japanese-Americans who grew up during and shortly after World War II, remember from their childhoods. Their parents couldn’t impress upon their children enough to stay away from the border fences surrounding the concentration camps that were constructed to intern Japanese and Japanese-Americans during World War II by Executive Order 9066 signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on February 19, 1942. There were eight Department of Justice camps across the western US, and ten internment camps-one called Amache that was located here in Colorado near the town of Granada in the south eastern part of the state. The Early Morning News has brought you coverage of the annual pilgrimage to Amache in the spring. Several organizations are now working to restore the camp to its original state and within the past year or so, have reconstructed the guard and water towers. Future projects are in the works at this time, some of which are sponsored by the Japanese-American Citizen League (JACL).
The JACL and history Colorado have been holding a series titled: Day of Remembrance 2015: Sharing our Truths, and KGNU was there to bring you the following coverage:
Three survivors of concentration camps were:
Dr. Frank Sakamoto has been a JACL leader for more than 65 years. He serves as a high advisor to the mile high JACL board. The son of a Japanese immigrant, Dr. Sakamoto grew up in Washington and California. He is retired from the field of optometry and holds many patents for contact lenses. He was incarcerated at the Jila River Camp in Arizona and participated in the Civil Rights Movement of the mid 1960s. He is quoted as saying,
“We cannot forget the past , how our Isei (1st generation parents) and older Nisei (2nd generation) have struggled. We must wipe out racism.”
Toshiko Sakamoto was born and raised in San Jose. She was incarcerated at the age of sixteen in the Poston 3 concentration camp in Arizona. After the war she became a legal secretary. Mrs. Sakamoto has served on the Mile High JACL board.
Linda Takahashi Rodriguez was born in Los Angeles in 1941. She was six months old when her father, mother, and brother, Roy were removed to the Heart Mountain Camp in Wyoming. When the war ended, the family moved to Denver partly based on Colorado Governor Ralph Lawrence Carr’s announcement that Japanese were welcome in the state.
She is a retired educator and taught in Denver Public Schools and served as a school administrator for 10 years.
Unfortunately, the audio quality for Dr. Frank Sakamoto’s account was compromised and we hope to speak to him at a later date to document his memories, but we will hear a partial account of the memories of Toshiko Sakamoto first and then moderator Gil Asakawa asks Linda Takahashi Rodriguez for her memories in the following piece: