Local NewsBridging the Divide


Day of Remembrance: Remembering Executive Order 9066

Japanese Americans reflect
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Posted at 6:03 PM, Feb 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-19 12:01:56-05

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — It's been 79 years since Japanese Americans were forced into concentration camps during WWII.

On the Day of Remembrance, many take the time to reflect on those whose lives were lost and the unjust treatment many endured.

After the attack on Pearl Harbor by Japanese forces, President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared war on Japan.

On February 19, 1942, President Roosevelt signed executive order 9066, under the direction and pressure of his advisers.

The ordered allowed the removal of all residents of Japanese, German or Italian descent.

Since the West Coast was designated as a military area and the order gave commanders the power to exclude civilians from military zones, many Japanese Americans were removed since many were living on the West Coast at the time.

Sam Mihara, a second-generation Japanese American was born in California.

He was only 9-years-old in the summer of 1942, when he and his family were ripped away from their homes and forced by military guards to relocate to a concentration camp in Heart Mountain, Wyoming.

Mihara said the conditions were inhumane.

"There was no water, no electricity, the walls were not insulated, it was so cold," Mihara said.

As the days and months grew into years, redemption seemed impossible and the scars endured from camp lasted a lifetime.

"My father went blind in camp because the (guards) wouldn't let him see a doctor for his glaucoma," Mihara said.

It wasn't until 1976 when President Gerald Ford repealed executive order 9066.

IN 1988, Congress then passed and President Ronald Reagan signed the Civil Liberties Act, awarding $20,000 each to more than 80,000 Japanese Americans for the violation of their human rights.

A federal commission later issued a report, calling the incarceration of Japanese American's "unjust" and the result of "race prejudice, war hysteria and a failure of political leadership."

To learn more about the life and legacy of Sam Mihara, click here.