Sunday, June 1, 2014

Gish, Sue and May go to camp.

Yes, it is Sunday and time for Life in the Obits.

So today is a question about what it means to be an American Citizen.

I don't know about you, but I was taught in school about internment camps.  You know they existed in Europe during WWII.  Imagine my surprise when as an adult I discovered those Germans were not the only ones that ripped people from their homes and their lives and sent them to camps.  Surrounded by wire and men with guns.

Yes, our great country did the same thing to American citizens that happened to be of Japanese descent.

This morning's obits contained the stories of three Japanese Americans that were uprooted from their lives and sent to camps, all because they were of Japanese heritage.  I do understand that the war was on and people were scared.  But why these people?  How come the government did not put a fence around the entire place called GermanTown, Pennsylvania.  Following the logic of you are Japanese, you must be a threat.  Wouldn't the same logic apply to an entire population that choose to live in a place called GermanTown?  I will never understand what happened during that time, but I will talk about three people today that lived thru it.

First there is Gish, born in San Francisco, he worked at the famous San Francisco Flower Mart until he was sent to the Heart Mountain camp in Wyoming.  He was part of a group that then became a translator for the British during the war.  

After what, I can only imagine was a horrible period in his life, he returned to beauty of the flower mart where he stayed for over 50 years.

Then we have Sue.  Born in Alameda in 1919 and a guest of the government at the Poston Concentration Camp in Yuma, Arizona and she also spent time in the Topaz Concentration Camp in Millard County, Utah.

Sue finally returned to the Bay Area to raise a family and become a counselor.  She was an advocate for Japanese American reparations, which I am sure put her on somebodies list somewhere to be watched until this obit was published.

In 1941 May was interned at Camp III, Poston Arizona with her family.  May came back to Berkeley and later on to Daly City where she worked side by side with her husband in a framing business.  After her retirement she took up creative writing and joined a local poetry group.  I would love to read some of her work about her time in the camps.

I am ashamed of lots of things in the history of my country.  Do not get me wrong, I love this country and would not want to live anywhere else, except maybe in France but that is a different story.  Back on track, I am ashamed my country would actually round up it citizens and place them in camps, for no other reason than the fact that they had Japanese blood.

Just brings to mind the poem about - to paraphase.

First they came for (insert whatever you want)
And I did not speak, because I was not (insert)
Then they came for me.

Rest in peace.

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