YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

A Bitter Reminder

November 08, 1987

The thing that really irks me about Johanne E. M. Zell's letter to the editor in View is that she didn't take the time to understand the redress bill for Japanese Americans before she started knocking it ("Reviving Bitter Memories," Letters, Oct. 25; Zell's family was among those imprisoned by Japan in Singapore and Java during World War II).

Her biggest mistake is comparing the Americans of Japanese ancestry with the Japanese. I am a third-generation American of Japanese descent and my parents were interned during World War II. They were not starved in camp, but they sacrificed more than food; they lost their freedom and pride as Americans.

My father was one of the many Japanese-American soldiers who fought for his country, the United States, while his family was held in cages made of barbed wire. He was a member of the 442nd battalion, the all Japanese-American team, and the most highly decorated unit in the history of World War II, often referred to as the "Purple Heart" battalion because of its large number of casualties.

How many Americans would fight and give their lives for the same America that was holding their parents in prison camps? Probably only the most loyal.

I agree with Zell when she says that, "In a war, anyone can become the enemy." That is the reason why the passing of the redress bill is so important. The Japanese-American internment showed that the U.S. government can turn on its very own people during wartime fear and hysteria. Something we don't want to happen again, to any group of people.

It's easy for Zell to confuse Japanese Americans with Japanese nationals because we both have yellow skin and black hair. But it's the very same mistake that the U.S. government made during World War II.



Los Angeles Times Articles