Some will be offended by this post... and by my anger. That I can not help. Through the years our Heritage has been to Claim ourselves to be "The Guiding Light of Freedom". For that reason...
~ I hold America to a Higher Standard ~
In the desert of California is a place. An empty piece of dirt... Where Oaths were betrayed and hearts were broken.
Like most others, I had let it go and did not educate my self. It was another time. It wasn't my responsibility. It wasn't relevant... I was a blind fool.
In 1942, Roosevelt, the 4th Army and a sizable part of the vaunted "Greatest Generation" Betrayed America ... at a Place called Manzanar.
Let me tell you about Hero's. They are all flawed. All of them... Give them the Honor they are due... but... don't hold them up as infallible saints; They are men. Listen to them... but learn and see the Truth for yourself.
Many of the men of that Greatest Generation did do great and honorable things... My step father was a decorated and courageous bearer of the Purple Heart. But he too was flawed.
There were others however whose faults ran deeper than mere human weakness. They stained the memory and heritage of the True Heroes with deliberate DIS-Honor. What is worse, average Americans SAW it happening, and let it. They didn't stop it. That is our greatest Shame.
The cowardly, despicable, and immoral actions of those days Must NEVER be forgotten. They must Never be repeated.
Imagine this happens to you; Your family is given a week to dispose of or put into storage, all of your possessions. Your stores, your shops, your homes are boarded up. Your job and your livelihood are gone. Most of your possessions end up forfeit.
You are ordered to assemble at a location to be "Processed" and "relocated". Your family is tagged with a number and herded onto buses by men with Bayoneted Rifles. Your world has devolved to just your family and what you could carry.
The buses drive out into the California Desert. When you arrive and disembark the first thing you see are the eight gun towers outside the Barbed wire fence. Their guns point inward. They are not there to protect you... but to ensure your imprisonment.
Your family, you, your wife or your husband and your four children are assigned an "apartment". A 20'x25' room in a board and tar paper shack. Latrines are many yards away across the desert sand... whether it be 100 degrees... or ten.
If you are a couple without children you are assigned to a 20'x25' identical room, in a board and tar paper shack... with Three Other Couples. No dividers. No separation. No privacy.
**Only signs remain today of the ugliness inflicted on American citizens... and a few reconstructions... to show the cruelty and hardship.**
If you resisted? There are eight gun towers and many Military Police to deal with that... it happened... and men died.
It can't happen here you say? This is America!
This is NOT the fantasy of some right wing lunatics rant. This DID Happen.
This is WHAT WAS DONE TO AMERICAN CITIZENS. In the Name of Defending FREEDOM.
This, IS our History.
110,000 American Citizens (some legal residents for Decades, yet prohibited by racist law from obtaining citizenship) were rounded up, given a number and herded onto buses and trains to be transported to American Concentration Camps...
|*The Numbered Tags... and Family Stories of the Numbered*|
American FAMILIES Imprisoned not for a violation of morality or law...
Imprisoned Not because of any blasphemy, sedition or act...
IMPRISONED, their Liberty TAKEN. NO accusation, NO trial, NO Conviction...
Their Freedom gone, due only... To Being Born.
The first of the camps to be constructed... was Manzanar.
In all, ten American Concentration camps were erected.
~ Manzanar War Relocation Center ~
It reminds me of other signs I've seen...
~ The American Concentration Camps ~
Manzanar and Tule Lake
Poston and Gila
Rohwer and Jerome
I choke and have difficulty speaking, tears run down my face at the thought. What soldier could tolerate this despicable insult? What soldier could abide the betrayal of the very same Liberty he was watching his friends die to preserve? What soldier forgot the oath he took - and held a bayonet to American Citizens?
In 1944 in ever greater perversion, the willingness of people; both those standing in front of and those held BEHIND barbed wire and Gun Towers, to accept the unacceptable was tested. The threads of credibility and honor were twisted to their breaking point, when attempt was made to Draft those incarcerated for their imagined disloyalty, and DEMAND that they serve in the Military to DEFEND THEIR LIBERTY.
Innocent men, imprisoned without cause... were ordered to serve to Defend their Liberty!
Refusal was taken as proof of their disloyalty. The sick arrogance of that stuns me. How can you demand that a man, illegally imprisoned with his family, defend his Non-Existing Liberty, while his family remains imprisoned behind barbed wire, threatened by American Guns?
I Honor those who refused.
|*Drafted... While their Families knew THIS*|
|*A Judge or Two possessed Honor*|
A few resisted this final insult and were convicted. They received, in 1947, Pardons. How great is the insult to be Pardoned for a crime you did not even conceive of committing? Pardons for their being convicted of Defending The Constitution they were being drafted to defend are to me the final insult in this cowardly saga.
What perversion of language and morality can justify this sin against our heritage?
What payment to its victims can ever wash away the memory of the pain, the anguish and the betrayal of what was done in the name of Defending Liberty.
The ghosts of the betrayed call out for remembrance. "Never Again!"
I walked through this sad place and choked on the sadness that echoes across the land carried by the desert breeze. I vow, I could feel and hear and taste the sorrow and hopelessness that must have been a crushing burden to those incarcerated here. It broke my heart.
Their ghosts cry out for us to pay heed and stop it from coming... Yet it does come Again! The bitter lessons and failures of our past scream out at the betrayals of the present; "LOOK! Can you not SEE?". Betrayals born of unconquered fear. Betrayals born of Cowardice.
Have American Citizens been taken from the street? Carried to Guantanamo and held for years? Held without even specified accusation? without indictment? without trial? without DUE PROCESS? The answer is YES.
In their unbridled cowardice are states passing laws authorizing the seizure of "property" without due process? A clear violation of the 4th and 14th amendments? The answer is YES.
Have Americans been specifically targeted for assassination by Drone? Without the DUE PROCESS REQUIRED by the 4th and 14th Amendments to the Very FOUNDATION of our Law and our Society? The answer is YES... one of the murdered, a 14 year old boy.
Can you honestly try and convince me that one, lone, Orphaned, 14 year old boy, lost in Africa could truly be of any viable threat to the survival of a Nation of 330 million? So dire a threat that he must be secretly assassinated by missile? Are we truly that Weak and cowardly?
It comes again because we deliberately close our eyes in cowardice and look the other way. "It's not me. It's none of my business. The authorities know what they are doing. I have to trust them."
It was never said more eloquently;
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out--
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out--
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out--
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me--and there was no one left to speak for me.
~ Martin Niemöller
THAT deliberate, cowardly ignorance is how the names of Dachau, Treblinka, Sobi Bor, Munchausen, and others have come to represent the depravity of mankind.
The residents surrounding those man made pits of hell knew what was happening there. Ignorance was an impossibility. They turned away and let it happen. They were conditioned to acquiesce to "Authority".
The difference between The American Concentration Camps and those of The Germans can only be measured by the degree of cruelty. The motivation was and remains the same; The stupidity and cowardice of racism and intolerance.
When you listen to the current "Authorities" or others spout their propaganda against this or that fringe group or minority, measure it against the lying propaganda that deprived American Citizens of their rights and property in 1942... That brutalized their children with gun towers and barbed wire.
That threatened their very lives if they resisted strongly enough. More than one WAS shot.
It happened before then... it has happened since... it will happen again... BECAUSE WE ALLOW IT TO.
If we don't raise up our voices and our Lives against it we are shown to be cowards... Our Liberty becomes only a Facade, and we are unworthy of the Reality of it.
They say; History Repeats Itself
|Gun Towers ~ Coming to a town near you?|
The lessons of Manzanar can be applied to the foolish and cowardly choices and decisions that have been made and tolerated since and as a consequence of 9/ll.
The lessons of Manzanar can be applied to the hysteria and racism that are the consequence of the battle and debate over illegal immigration.
The lessons of Manzanar can be applied to the hysteria and fear that is all wrapped up in the debate and vitriol over the issue of Gay Rights.
How many Americans are different than the residents who lived around Dachau? or Treblinka? or the others? How many would rise up if Mexican Americans were preciptitously ordered to "Assemble" for "relocation"? Manzanar IS relevant today!
How many would stand in defense if "Gay" citizens were ordered separated from our society in some way?
You're not Mexican right? You're not gay! None of your business! The authorities know what they're doing. They "Promised" to do the right thing right?
How many promises have you ever known any elected gov't official to keep? Let's not even start with the unelected bureaucrats that are the true rulers!
Manzanar was a betrayal of everything this country claims to be. It was a heart breaking horror 71 years ago that insulted the sacrifice of millions of soldiers who thought they were fighting, and dying for Freedom...
Its Memory is Brilliantly Relevant and applicable Today.
It takes courage and integrity to live in True Freedom and Liberty.
It takes more than waving a flag and pounding your chests on Memorial day and the Fourth of July.
It takes the guts to risk all for Honor and Dignity.
It takes the willingness to risk life itself, rather than betray a promise or an oath.
If we lack that willingness, we have already surrendered what we claim to hold dear.
If you willfully ignore the lessons taught to us by the proud, courageous and noble American citizens incarcerated in those despicable camps; If you ignore the voices of those Americans who in disbelief and with shattered hope; absorbed their abuse and betrayal with dignity and Honor... You condemn other Americans to the same sorrow... and America... to the ultimate destruction of that which set her apart.
To stand in the center of this camp... where 10,000 souls were held behind barbed wire... and imagine what it would be like to look up and see those glorious mountains... so close you could almost touch them... and know it would mean my life if I tried... It breaks an old soldiers heart :'(
|*Our Wall of Shame ~ The Names of the Betrayed Americans*|
|*The ghostly foundation of a Mess Hall... can you hear their voices?*|
|*Ignore History... and it WILL repeat itself*|
Please... don't be blinded by propaganda, racism and stupidity. Open your eyes to possibility and Hope. Do not turn away in shame and embarrassment from History. Hold it close and learn from it.
Travel here. Learn the truth for yourselves. Honor their Sacrifice and Suffering.
Use the Lessons of History to prevent the repetition of such a Betrayal of our Heritage.
Grateful to a sharp eyed reader I returned to correct an omission that slipped past me.
Many members of those I've been calling the Betrayed People enlisted or were drafted and assigned to the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. It has widely been heralded as the most highly decorated unit of the United States Army. It also took by significant proportion the highest level of casualties for a unit of its size.
The point is, in defiance of the misery heaped upon their families, in spite of the fact that their families were held behind wire... the men of this Courageous Unit went, they fought and they died... for the Freedom of which they and their families were deprived. THEY were truly the point of the spear of the Greatest Generation. They upheld the heritage and traditions, with sheer guts and integrity, that others dishonored. They carry into the future the Honor, Respect and Pride they earned.
They are men I consider exemplary American Citizens.