Bainbridge Island remembers Japanese American incarceration on 75th anniversary

Names on the wall of the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Memorial. (Photo by Venice Buhain.)

Bainbridge Island, of the first areas of the United States affected by the executive order that sent 120,000 Japanese Americans to incarceration camps during World War II, marked the 75th anniversary of the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II on Thursday at the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial.

Speakers included Kay Sakai Nakao, 97, who was 22 when she and her family were forced from Bainbridge Island and said her memories of that day were very clear.

“There were soldiers armed with bayonets, and all of the people, families, were waiting anxiously, just milling around,” she said.

Gov. Jay Inslee, Japanese Ambassador to the United States Kenichiro Sasae and more than a dozen people who were incarcerated in the camps were at Thursday’s commemoration at the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial.

Inslee and Nakao, like at recent commemorations of the incarceration, referenced the current political climate, in which politicians, including President Donald Trump, have demonized Muslims, speaking about creating a Muslim registration and banning Muslims from travel within the United States.

“I don’t want what happened to us to happen to anyone else ever again,” Nakao said. The Kitsap Sun has a video of the commemoration ceremony.

Japanese Americans walk down the Bainbridge Islan ferry dock to catch a special ferry to Seattle for mass removal in 1942. (Photo courtesy of the Museum of History & Industry)
Japanese Americans walk down the Bainbridge Islan ferry dock to catch a special ferry to Seattle for mass removal in 1942. (Photo courtesy of the Museum of History & Industry)

The memorial is located on site of the former Eagledale ferry dock where 227 men, women and children of Japanese descent were removed from their homes on Bainbridge Island. Two-thirds of them were American citizens.

About 276 Japanese and Japanese Americans resident on the island when President Franklin Roosevelt issued an executive order that people of Japanese descent who lived on the West Coast would be forced from their homes to live in camps. The memorial, which is a National Parks Service site, was opened in 2011 and includes the names of all the residents who lived on Bainbridge Island. About 150 of them returned after the war.

Further reading

Northwest Public Radio: Echoes Of Past Ring Loudly At WWII Internment Anniversary Ceremony

Kitsap Sun: Bainbridge commemorates 75th internment anniversary

Related Stories

Seattle Globalist: Japanese American incarceration commemorated with vows to counter anti-Muslim political rhetoric

Seattle Globalist: How Bellevue businessmen who stoked fears benefited after Japanese American incarceration

Seattle Globalist: History of Japanese American incarceration finds modern parallel

More stories on Executive Order 9066 on The Seattle Globalist.

The Bainbridge Island Japanese American Memorial, with an interpretation sign in the foreground. (Photo by Venice Buhain.)
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