Japanese American Internment

During WWII most Japanese Americans on the west coast, many of whom were U.S. citizens, were forced into internment camps because the U.S. government considered them potentially dangerous due to their ethnicity. This policy was put into effect on Feb. 19, 1942 by President Roosevelt's Exec. Order 9066. Many MISLS students were recruited or drafted from these internment camps.

The following is an excerpt from an interview with WWII veteran Mitsuo Usui, who served as a paratrooper in the U.S. Army from 1942-46. Think about the following as you read the reminiscence, look at a proclamation made by President Roosevelt, and watch the video clip:

  • How does President Roosevelt's proclamation fit with what happened to Japanese Americans during WWII?
  • How did Japanese Americans respond to the internment policy?

"At first, my parents were against me for volunteering.  They felt that evacuation was a 'kick in the pants' and 'now you are going to volunteer?'  (That's like saying 'Now polish their shoes' and you're going out just to do that to people who made your father lose everything - his business, home furnishings, etc. etc.)

But, after the first Nisei were killed in Europe, I felt the change in my father's attitude - first in his letters, then when I came back to [the internment] camp on my furlough.  His last words as I left camp to go overseas were, 'You, stupid son.  First you volunteered, then you went into the paratroops.  You're sure sticking your neck out.  But as you go, I say, give them hell and come back fighting."


No loyal citizen of the United States should be denied the democratic right. . .


Fort Snelling Classroom Project: Interview with Edwin Nakasone, Clip 1

The Starvation Study Medical Care at Fort Snelling Minnesota Home Front Induction Military Intelligence Service Language School