Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Seasons Greatings: Pearl Harbor Edition

Before everyone writes this post off as another crass, tongue and cheek take on this day in history, I want to share a piece of ephemera that comes from my Grandparent's personal collection from their time in the internment camps during World War II.

Given this is the holiday season, it is only appropriate that I share this now. The tattered image is a handmade card from the Granada Christian Church and it features the water tower which was the tallest structure at Camp Amache which held over 7000 Japanese American citizens uprooted from their homes after the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the start of World War II.

In my collection of images from camp, I have one other Christmas card, a hand-tinted photograph with the words "Season's Greetings" and small holly leaves marked over an arial view of the barracks. These two images tried to present a normal view of what the camps were like. However, these forced segregated communities were far from normal. Normal towns and don't have guard towers with armed soldiers...


So today, as I do every year, I celebrate Pearl Harbor day. People don't get it. When I invited my classmates out, mixed replies about dead soldiers and war memories from the attack that day. Of course, not knowing the personal history with internment, the loss of property, dignity, civil rights, and being forced to pledge loyalty to a country that took away all of your rights is foreign. The forced irony, forced satire, is lost.  I will be the first to say that I make my own merriment/mockery of a solemn day. But I think of it as a wake. I embrace my contradictions of being the grandson of a World War II vet who served in the Pacific Theater and a Yonsei (fourth generation Japanese). It's the same contradictory concept that loves serving and working with the Veteran population but despises war. 

While it is a few more weeks until Christmas, I wish you holiday greetings once more…Not a "White Christmas" as in the last card I posted--This time from a government run prison camp where the Constitution does not truly exist. 

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