A “historical event” is a social construction, something that happens is significant only if society agrees that it is. On February 17, over 210 people gathered at the History Colorado Center to remember the signing of Executive Order 9066 on February 19, 1942. In the wake of Pearl Harbor, 110,000 people of Japanese ancestry, seventy percent of them U.S. citizens, were forcibly removed from their homes and incarcerated in ten American concentration camps.

For this year’s Day of Remembrance, which Mile High JACL hosts each year, five survivors came to share their memories of camp life, and offer their warning that this could happen again.

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Carolyn Takeshita was a University of Denver graduate student when National Guardsmen set off tear gas to disband protesters, and triggered a delayed PTSD reaction that threw her back in time to Poston concentration camp. Rose Tanaka remembers the “intense hatred of the Caucasian community” as she and her family were taken to Manzanar in 1942.

Bob Fuchigami was 12 when he was sent to Camp Amache here in Colorado, and 15 when he “got out of there.” Aiko Okubo lived in Block Six at Minidoka, and remembers her joy of “…being allowed on the other side of the [barbed wire] fence” to play. And Min Mochizuki can’t forget a class discussion: “What constitutes loyalty?”—heavy stuff for a high school senior incarcerated at Tule Lake camp.

We gather each year to remember, and to learn, so that it will never happen again. For more information about this historical event visit www.jacl.org/powerofwords.