“This wall marks the path where, on March 30, 1942, two hundred and twenty-seven friends, neighbors, classmates, and coworkers left their homes, jobs, farms, businesses, and community [on Bainbridge Island]–their lives disrupted, their hopes and dreams torn apart.” – memorial plaque
Instructions to All Japanese Living on Bainbridge Island
All Japanese persons, both alien and nonalien, will be evacuated from this area by twelve noon, Monday, March 30, 1942.
No Japanese person will be permitted to leave or enter Bainbridge Island after 9:00 a.m., March 24, 1942, without obtaining special permission from the Civil Control Office established on this island near the ferryboat landing at the Anderson Dock Store in Winslow. (“Instructions to All Japanese Living on Bainbridge Island.”)
“I felt like a second-class citizen, to be herded onto the boat by soldiers with bayonets. It was the most humiliating experience of my life.” -Isami Nakao
“Back home at graduation they had thirteen empty chairs on the stage. That day, I felt so empty and sad. I sat on my bunk and cried.” – Nobuko Sakai Omoto
One foot of wall for every person taken from Bainbridge.
二度とないように – Let it not happen again.
I think that’s a beautiful sentiment for a critically important memorial project, but it’s not enough for the rest of us just to say “never again” and carry on with our lives. “Never again” has to be a commitment: to teach about Japanese American incarceration in our schools and in our textbooks with the depth it deserves; to give the project managers and activists a place to speak about their work and to promote their project; and not to just relegate the incarceration to the past but to focus on racially motivated inequality and injustice happening in the present. Moreover, not to limit our knowledge of the Japanese exclusion merely to one paragraph that “it happened” but to show the effects it had on the livelihoods of the 120,000 individuals whose civil rights were stripped away in an executive order enforced under the excuse of wartime safety.
The above photo, which transposes an image of the Bainbridge residents’ walk to the ferry that took them to Manzanar in 1942 with another image of the completed story wall in 2011, is a powerful reminder of what happened in this picturesque area of the island.
The Bainbridge Island Japanese American Community and Bainbridge Island Japanese American Memorial hope to expand the site to include a visitors’ center and recreate the “departure pier.” To read more about the history of the Nikkei on Bainbridge, the internment camps, the future of the memorial, outreach work, and visiting the site, check out the following websites:
Densho is a digital archive intended to preserve Nikkei testimonies: http://www.densho.org/