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Arizona

By Josh A.
Grade 6, Arizona

Japanese Relocation Camp

Many Japanese -American citizens were treated as enemies after the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941. My great grandparents- Meigi Ohara, Momoe (Masumato) Ohara, and my great uncle Taro were a few of them. My great grandfather, Meigi Ohara, came to America from Japan in 1919, at the age of 17 in hopes and visions of a better life in the United States. Later, he married my great-grandmother Momoe and had a son (my great uncle), Taro. He was 10 years old when the law was made.

President Franklin Roosevelt issued a law that ordered everyone with Japanese blood to be moved off the west coast. In February of 1942, FBI agents came to every Japanese citizenÆs house and told them they had 48 hours to pack everything they could in two suitcases each. Taro had a toy gun and a camera and they took them away. No one told them where they were going, for how long, and why. They just told them they had 48 hours to get rid of everything- their house, their car, their business, everything. My great-grandfather owned a nursery, and he had to get rid of it.

By then, the U.S. had declared war with Japan. My great grandparentsÆ family was picked up by army trucks and drove to Orange County fairgrounds. Each family had to live in a dirty, nasty, uncleaned horse stall. There were armed soldiers guarding outside every stall. This really bothered my great grandmother because, she was born in America; she was an American citizen! They were scared; they didnÆt know what was going to happen to them. Nobody told them anything until they said that they were going to be moved to a permanent camp. My great grandmother was pregnant, and to make matters worse, they were put on trains and shipped off to a relocation camp in Wyoming.

When they arrived at Hart Mountain relocation camp, one of the ten camps in the U.S., it was not even finished yet. It was still being constructed and was very poor living quarters. The army built the camp, so it looked like an army base. There were many long buildings in the camp. Each family was assigned to a room in a building, but sometimes there was 3 or 4 families in a room, so it was very crowded. This bothered my great grandmother because there was no privacy. They would hang up blankets to divide the room up. Each person got an army cot and a blanket. The buildings were made of wood, and because there was no heater, it could get to û40 degrees at night. Although Wyoming got very hot in the summer, it got very cold in the winter.

Everybody had to eat in one mess hall. ôThe food was horrible,ö said my greatuncle Taro. They had no choice of what to eat. Sometimes it was hot, sometimes it was cold. They didnÆt have a lot of Japanese food, like rice and teriyaki. Sometimes they didnÆt have enough for everyone.

If you were a kid in camp, like Taro, you would be bored out of your mind! There was no school and no recreation. In the summer, they dug a big hole and filled it with water. That was all they had.

All around the camp were armed soldiers guarding the perimeter with rifles. Most of the people in the camp were American citizens and were treated as the enemy. They had no rights. My great grandfather was not an American citizen, though he wanted to be one. There was a law that said anyone that came from Asia couldnÆt be an American citizen.

When my great grandmother was in labor with my grandma, she was givin special permission to leave and go to a hospital right outside the camp. There was no hospital or doctor in the camp; they only had a little nurseÆs office. On February 22, 1943, my grandma, Nancy (Ohara) Adams was born. Cameras were not allowed in the camp, so they didnÆt have baby pictures of my grandma. This bothered my great grandmother, because she loved pictures. But someone in the camp secretly built a camera and took one picture of my great grandfather holding my grandma as a baby. He is standing next to a long building, the building they had to live in. There are only two of these pictures, because my grandma got a copy. She has the one original one and my dad (her son) and my mom have the copy. I was lucky enough to get it to use in this book.

Finally, in 1944 they let my great grandparentsÆ family out.





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