Saturday, Joseph and I took light rail down to the Secretary of State's office building. We had heard that Bob Fletcher was being honored. During WWII when the Japanese were being put in internment camps, Bob took over the management of 3 farms. Ran the farms, paid the mortgages, and faced the prejudice and even persecution from his neighbors. When these Japanese families were released, Unlike so many others, they had their farms and homes and Bob gave them half the profits he had earned working their farms. When one grateful farmer, Mr. Tsukamoto, wondered at how he managed and what he sacrificed, Bob said oh, I just worked hard. Mr. T and his daughter Mary found bullet holes in their barn where people had shot at Bob as he cared for their farm. Yesterday Mary gave he a plaque on the behalf of the 3 families and the Japanese- American community. He also got a standing ovation and lots of hugs.
What we didn't know until we got there was this was part of the Time of Remembrance. We saw a one man show, "Dawn's Light" - the true story of Gordon Hirabayashi who said "no" to the 1942 curfew, evacuation, and incarceration of the Japanese Americans. During WWII in Seattle, University of Washington student Gordon Hirabayashi agonized over U.S. government orders to forcibly remove and imprison all people of Japanese ancestry on the West Coast. Struggling to reconcile his country's betrayal with his Constitutional beliefs, Gordon journeyed toward a greater understanding of America's triumphs and failures. It was moving, educational, and surprisingly funny. Both the man and the actor, Ryan Yu, seem to have wonderful perspective and sense of humor.
Admission to the show also included admission to the California History Museum next door, with an invitation to visit the exhibit about the internment of Japanese-Americans during WWII.
While this Time of Remembrance is dedicated to remembring the Japanese-American experience during WWII, it does not come across as resentful, angry, or poor me. Ultimately, the attitude is mostly patriotic to America's highest ideas and a lesson not to let this kind of thing happen again. Particularly that in the wake of 9/11, we must not judge and convict an entire people, but judge individuals by their actions.