Feb. 19, 1942, was a day that changed the lives of Japanese Americans forever. I was a teenager growing up in Hawaii when President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which set into motion the removal and incarceration of more than 110,000 people of Japanese ancestry in inland concentration camps.
After Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, a tense atmosphere of suspicion and hysteria engulfed the West Coast and Hawaii. Decades of anti-Japanese and anti-Asian legislation and racism had already laid the foundation for the events that soon took place. We were rounded up without due process even though we had nothing to do with the attack. Our family was shipped to California, then to Arkansas and finally to Wyoming, where we spent the duration of the war.
Yet today there are renewed attacks on civil liberties in the name of the “war on terrorism.” Legislation such as the Patriot Act and the government’s willingness to arrest and charge innocent people contribute to an atmosphere that could lead to future internment camps.