Monday, March 3, 2008
On December 7, 1941, the Empire of Japan attacked American naval bases at Pearl Harbor, Hawai'i, plunging the United States into war with Japan, Germany, and Italy. In a decision that historians and the American government now acknowledge was rash, emotional, baseless, and racist, hundreds of thousands of Nisei, or Japanese-Americans, were rounded up and deported to internment camps in the interior states.
Nearly 50 years later, President Ronald Reagan signed legislation officially apologizing for the forced imprisonment of some of America's most loyal and patriotic citizens and providing reparations to the remaining survivors. In November 2000, a memorial was dedicated to this dark time in our history.
Located in a tiny park within sight of the U.S. Capitol is the National Japanese American Memorial. This graceful, quiet monument memorializes the 120,000 American citizens who were held as "enemy combatants" in camps in California, Arizona, Wyoming, Utah, Idaho, Colorado, and Arkansas. (Many of the sons of this internees volunteered for the Armed Forces and fought with distinction and valor in the Pacific and European Theaters.) The memorial features this granite and bronze statue of two cranes bound by barbed-wire and is surrounded in a circle by granite tablets with quotes from some of America's most famous and patriotic Japanese Americans. For more detail on the symbolism found in this memorial, click here.
The National Japanese American Memorial is located at Louisiana Avenue, New Jersey Avenue and D Street NW just north of the U.S. Capitol.
Photo copyright: D.C. Confidential, 11/07