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The U.S. During WWII: Free or Not?. Sunday, December 7, 1941 “ A day that will live in infamy. ” ~ FDR Japan attacks the U.S. and they end their policy of isolationism by declaring war on Japan. Germany then declares war on the U.S. Discrimination against Japanese Americans was widespread.

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Sunday, December 7, 1941

“A day that will live in infamy.” ~ FDR

Japan attacks the U.S. and they end their policy of isolationism by declaring war on Japan.

Germany then declares war on the U.S.

discrimination against japanese americans was widespread
Discrimination against Japanese Americans was widespread

“A Jap is a Jap.” ~Lieutenant General John L. Dewitt

internment the act of interning or confining especially in wartime
Internment – the act of interning or confining, especially in wartime
  • 1932 – The FBI and the U.S. military make lists of potentially dangerous Japanese Americans.
  • December 1941 –Japanese Americans and Japanese citizens living on the West Coast must hand over radios and cameras.
  • Spring 1942 – President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, authorizing the removal and incarceration of over 110,000 Japanese Americans. Two-thirds were American citizens. Over half were children.
camp life
Camp Life

Inmates had been led to believe that these more permanent centers would be "resettlement communities," not prisons. When they arrived, however, they found their new quarters fenced in with barbed wire and guarded by military police.

They also found themselves overcrowded in single rooms with no furniture except for cots and a pot-bellied stove.

Family life deteriorated, as communal arrangement for all activities, including eating, encouraged children to spend time away from the family "home." Parental authority diminished.

Some internees, suspected of being collaborators and informers, were attacked. By November and December 1942, demonstrations and riots had broken out in several camps. Military police, called in to quell the disturbance, killed two unarmed youths and wounded nine others.

Graveyard at Granada Relocation Center, in Amache, Colorado.

military service
Military Service

A number of Nisei left the barbed wire confines to volunteer for the Army. A sizeable number volunteered out of desire to prove their loyalty and in response to the urgings of the Army and the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL).

Several thousand volunteers served in the all-Nisei 442nd Regimental Combat Team (RCT). Together with the 100th Infantry Battalion, composed of many Japanese Americans from Hawaii.

For its size and length of service, the 100th Infantry Battalion / 442nd Regimental Combat Team became the most highly decorated unit in U.S. history.

end of exclusion
End of Exclusion

By the end of 1942, as challenges to the constitutionality of the internment made their way to the U.S. Supreme Court, the WRA announced a policy of "relocation" of Japanese American internees. By the middle of 1943, a slow trickle of Japanese Americans resettled in the East Coast and the Midwest.

The Supreme Court ruled on December 18, 1944, in Ex parte Endo that the government could no longer detain loyal citizens (as represented by Mitsuye Endo, a young Japanese American women whose brother served in the 442nd RCT) against their will. This led to the opening of the West Coast for resettlement.

On March 20, 1946, the last of the ten major detention camps, Tule Lake, closed.

Internment camps and further institutions of the War Relocation Authority in the U.S.