This Friday, May 13 commemorates the 80th anniversary of the “Train of Tears,” when 400 Japanese Americans were removed from their homes in the Hood River Valley and relocated to internment camps.
The story of World War II incarceration, and the decades of racial discrimination and government surveillance against Japanese Americans that preceded it, has never been more relevant. As we grapple with contemporary controversies surrounding immigration, terrorism, and the infringement of civil liberties in the name of public safety, parallels between past and present abound. Understanding this story offers opportunities for difficult, thought-provoking conversation and raises important questions: How does a democracy weigh individual rights against national security? Who is considered a “real” American? Does this change during times of fear? What is our responsibility to citizens and immigrants denied their constitutional rights?