Never Again - A Story of Yaeko Nakano


Uploaded by thajaxman on 29.03.2008

Transcript:
>>YAEKO NAKANO: In our Buddhist faith we are taught gratitude.
[bell sounds]
[chanting]
We are grateful to be born into human life.
[chanting]
Thank you for another day.
That I'm able to live another day.
I was born in Japan.
I was about a year and a half when I came back to the United States.
There was a law against Japanese and Chinese and that kind of thing...
...that you couldn't apply for citizenship.
My two older brothers were at the University of Washington
and my mother said they couldn't afford to send me at the same time.
So I was supposed to wait two years until they graduated, then it was supposed to be
my turn.
And war broke out.
>>NARRATOR: When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, our West Coast became a potential
combat zone.
Living in that zone were more than a hundred thousand persons of Japanese ancestry.
>>YAEKO NAKANO: And then that's when we were sent to the internment camps.
So I never got a chance to go to college like I wanted to.
President Roosevelt gave out orders
that we were supposed to be evacuated.
And they were pasted on the telephone poles and everything... they pasted this sign.
People just came by droves to all our houses and wanted to buy our furniture. Just dirt
cheap.
They picked up all the people, like the Buddhist priests, the people that were the elders who
were in charge of the communities.
They separated the families.
We were all given family numbers.
Finally, each family got notice on what day we had to leave.
Tacoma, Washington. May 17, 1942.
Last day in Tacoma. Feel kind of blue, but also looking forward to our trip.
Bade farewell to all of our friends, and that was hardest of all.
Around one, went down to Chinese Garden and had our last meal in Tacoma.
Sort of ashamed, but I stuffed myself when I thought I won't be able to eat this kind
of food for some time.
At a quarter to three, we locked our front door, looked around the garden, and with a
sort of empty feeling, turned our back on our home for the last ten years.
I boarded the train, and at ten minutes to six, we were on our way.
And Tule Lake was near the border of California and Oregon.
Got down there and it was a hundred degrees.
And we were told to take tin cups and tin saucer. And so we stood out in the hot sun
with our... I felt like a beggar, you know.
Everyday life was...
[sigh]
...it wasn't fun.
However, during the day I was able to take piano lessons.
And so I began teaching piano.
I also played for the Buddhist church services.
Tule Lake afterwards became a segregation camp.
They were trying to separate people who they considered good Americans and people who wanted
to go back to Japan.
They asked questions about...
"Are you a loyal American?"
And I said... I said, "You won't even give me citizenship."
I said, "I was born in Japan, but I was raised here." So I considered myself a loyal American.
The only thing that kept me going was that I met my future husband there.
We did get married. Nobody had cameras.
There was a soldier who was willing to come and take our picture. That's the reason why
I have a wedding picture.
And somebody sold me a suit. And then there was a former florist that was a few doors
away.
And so he went and got some flowers, and decorated the church part, and gave me a corsage.
Gratitude is the most important thing.
[piano music]
I was in camp for about four years.
Everybody lost everything.
[piano music]
The Japanese people, more or less, take things as it comes.
[Japanese phrase]
It means, "Never again will this happen."
The United States has the Constitution, and I don't think they'll break it again.
[piano music]