Convicting the Innocent: Japanese American Youth at Topaz: Evacuation
“But [Father] always mentioned, ‘This is America. They won’t treat you badly,’ all the way through the time that the FBI came and took him, arrested him separately . . . Our date of evacuation was—and ‘evacuation’ is the wrong word—I wasn’t hurt . . . and we’re being sent to somewhere ‘safer.’ Anyway, that’s what, I guess, kept us going, my dad’s last words of, ‘Don’t worry, don’t worry, this is America.’ ” —Grace F. Oshita
After Executive Order 9066, the Western Defense Command announced that all persons of Japanese descent would need to evacuate the West Coast. Some were only given a week to do so. While many were able to store their belongings in government-provided facilities, many had to sell their businesses, give up their rental properties, and give away their pets.
In a paper for her English class at the Tule Lake Relocation Center, a girl named Mineko wrote:
“May 21, 1942 is a day which will live in my memory forever, for this was my last day home. My last day in my hometown, Auburn, Washington . . . On this day my head was filled with many problems. Problems, I’ve never experienced before. Problems like would I ever come back again to the town I knew so well; would I ever see my friends that I had grown up with again? This with the last minute shopping and every other thing on my mind made this a day which was everything but a happy day.”
After they left their homes, Japanese Americans from all over the West Coast were transported to assembly centers which would house them until the relocation centers were built.