World War II

Pace Press/Linden Publishing

The new historical novel “Tears of Honor” by Fresno author James Ardaiz documents the experience of Japanese-Americans during WWII. The sweeping narrative includes two boys from Calwa who are forced into an internment camp, and ultimately show their loyalty to America by joining the Army and fighting in the war. Valley Edition Host Kathleen Schock spoke with Ardaiz about the novel and the extensive research he conducted while writing it. 

StoryCorps

And now to StoryCorps San Joaquin, a series based on our collaboration with the personal history project, StoryCorps. In this edited conversation from February's 2020 mobile tour in Fresno, 64-year-old daughter Nadine Takeuchi asks her 88-year-old mother Harumi Sasaki about her experience as a Japanese-American teenager living through the Hiroshima bombing.  

StoryCorps

In this StoryCorps San Joaquin segment, 53-year-old Joan Yamate Taketa talks with her lifelong friend Celeste Johnston, 54, about what she has learned of her paternal family history. The two also talk about their decades-long close friendship. Joan calls Celeste the “repository of a lot of her memories” and shares a story about her father. When Joan’s father was a young boy in the United States, he travelled with his mother to Japan to retrieve his older sister, who had been going to school near Hiroshima. And then Pearl Harbor was bombed. Joan tells Celeste the rest of the story.

Ansel Adams / Library of Congress

Back in 1927, baseball legends Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig came to Fresno to play exhibition matches, sometimes playing with all Japanese-American teams. One of those players was Kenichi Zenimura, an immigrant from Japan.

 

In a 1999 documentary film about him, “Diamonds In The Rough,” narrator and actor Noriyuki “Pat” Morita says that, “He’ll always be remembered as Zeni, ‘Dean of the Diamond.’” 

Those words, “Dean of the Diamond,” are memorialized on his gravestone. 

 

Bradley Hart / Thomas Dunne Books

Over the last year and a half, we’ve seen how the Trump Administration has threatened to pull away from trade agreements, close borders, and champion an “America First” agenda. But this isn’t the first time that phrase has gone around. Before the attack on Pearl Harbor, many in the U.S. actually favored a similar isolationist policy, with hopes to keep the U.S. military out of World War II. And it wasn’t just isolationists touting this idea. Among their ranks were Nazi sympathizers.

Kelly Mizue Aoki / Yonsei Memory Project

A new project organized by fourth-generation Japanese Americans is seeking to preserve memories and create art. Called the Yonsei Memory Project, the effort is a project of Nikiko Masumoto and Brynn Saito. The two will hold events in Fresno on Saturday Febaury 17th and Monday February 19th, including memory tours and an event of poetry and art at the Fresno Assembly Center, the site where local Japanese Americans were processed before they were sent to concentration campus during the Second World War.

Go For Broke

The Kingsburg Historical Society is hosting a new traveling exhibit on the Japanese American experience during the Second World War. The small farming community is known today for its Swedish heritage, but before the interment of citizens in domestic concentration camps during the war, it had a vibrant Japanese American community. The new exhibit, "Courage and Compassion: Our Shared Story of the Japanese American WWII Experience" is on a nationwide tour from the Go For Broke National Education Center, with support from the National Park Service.

National Archives / https://www.archives.gov/files/education/lessons/japanese-relocation/images/order-posting.gif

On February 19, 1942 President Franklin Roosevelt signed Executive Oorder 9066 which led to the forced removal of Japanese-American citizens from their homes and farms on the west coast, placing them in internment camps. Many of the families that were rounded up and sent to the camps came from the San Joaquin Valley. Many stayed there for years, and some lost their homes and farms.