Sunday, August 7, 2011

Wall honors Bainbridge Japanese Americans sent to internment camps

Note that the island is not on the coast of Washington state, surrounded by ocean, but rather an inner island, in Puget Sound.

Bainbridge Island is a city in Kitsap County, Washington, United States, and the name of the island in Puget Sound on which the city is situated. The population was 23,025 at the 2010 census.

In July 2005, CNN/Money and Money magazine named Bainbridge Island the second-best place to live in the United States.

The local newspapers are the weekly Bainbridge Island Review and the daily Kitsap Sun.

In 1792 George Vancouver spent several days with his ship HMS Discovery anchored off Restoration Point at the southern end of Bainbridge Island while boat parties surveyed other parts of Puget Sound. Vancouver spent a day investigating Rich Passage, Port Orchard, and Sinclair Inlet. He failed to find Agate Passage and so his maps show Bainbridge Island as a peninsula. Vancouver named Restoration Point on May 29, the anniversary of the English Restoration, in honor of King Charles II.

In 1841, U.S. Navy Lieutenant Charles Wilkes visited the island while surveying the Northwest. Lt. Wilkes named the island after Commodore William Bainbridge, commander of the frigate U.S.S. Constitution in the War of 1812. Bainbridge Island was originally a center for the logging and shipbuilding industries. The island was known for huge and accessible cedars, which were especially in demand for ships' masts. The original county seat of Kitsap County was at Port Madison on the north end of the island.

The first generation of Japanese immigrants, the Issei, came in 1883. During World War II, Japanese-American residents of Bainbridge Island were the first to be sent to internment camps. They were held by the U.S. government through the duration of the war for fear of espionage. Many Filipinos who assisted the Japanese farmers were left to operate the strawberry fields, which they did successfully. Filipino farmers went north to locate First Nations families to work in the fields. Many romances arose from the berry fields and the birth of the Indo-Pinos emerged.

The city of Bainbridge Island has occupied the entire island since February 28, 1991, when the former City of Winslow (around 1.5 square miles (3.9 km2) of land on Eagle Harbor, incorporated August 9, 1947) annexed the rest of the island. Since the 1960s, Bainbridge Island has become an increasingly affluent bedroom community of Seattle, a 35-minute ride away on the Washington State Ferries. The community has been especially concerned with preserving green space and keeping a tight control over development, both residential and commercial. The Bainbridge Island Land Trust, city and park district are instrumental in maintaining island open space.

From The Seattle Times: Wall honors Bainbridge Japanese Americans sent to internment camps

Everywhere she went, Kayo Natalie Hayashida Ong, now 70, was greeted over and again with delight and recognition as "the baby!"

An iconic photograph of her at age 1, asleep in her mother's arms as her family was forcibly removed from their Bainbridge Island home during World War II, became one of the best-known symbols of a dark period in American history.

They were among the first of 120,000 people of Japanese descent who were exiled from the West Coast or forced into internment camps by President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Civilian Exclusion Order after Pearl Harbor was bombed and the U.S. declared war on Japan.

"I don't remember it at all," Ong said, somewhat apologetically. "But now that I am older, I recognize the injustice."

She and her mother, Fumiko Hayashida, were among the dozens of camp survivors who attended the dedication of the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Wall on Saturday.

Built on the historic site of the Eagledale Ferry Dock, where the residents were loaded onto a ferry and taken from their homes, the cedar, granite and basalt wall honors the 276 Japanese Americans from the island who were the first to be relocated.

Along with quotes and ceramic art, the wall is graced with the name of every resident who left the island during the relocation.

It also is intended as a symbol of gratitude to the friends and neighbors who protested the action or helped those displaced by holding on to their land and property for them.

Help from neighbors

In part because of the goodwill among neighbors, 150 exiled residents returned to the island after the war, a greater percentage than in any other community, according to speaker Mary Woodward, whose parents reviled the exile in the local newspaper.

The wall also is a reminder and a warning. "Nidoto Nai Yoni," which means "Let it not happen again," is emblazoned on a stone, and the phrase was repeated many times during Saturday's ceremony.

There were some tears of sorrow and outrage expressed during the dedication.

A few people wiped away tears when Earl Hanson, class of 1941, spoke of being threatened by a soldier with a bayonet when he went to the dock to say goodbye to some of his closest friends.

"These kids were a part of our lives," he said.

But there also was plenty of laughter and greetings and hugs.

Sadumu Ted Kitayama and Bill Takamoto were 12 when they were rounded up by the Army, herded onto the ferry Kehloken and taken to fenced "relocation centers," where they would spend the next several years.

For the adults, they said, being rounded up like criminals and losing their land and all they had worked for was distressing beyond words.

But for the kids, they said, it was a different experience.

"It was a little bit of an adventure for us," said Kitayama.

"We didn't have to work on the farm anymore," said Takamoto.

"It was hard for our parents and grandparents," said Sumio Yukawa, who was 16 in 1942. "But we had our friends, and we got to run a little bit wild."

Fumiko Hayashida, — who, at 100, is the oldest living survivor from Bainbridge — was greeted like a celebrity by her many old friends and neighbors.

She pronounced the wall, the feeling behind it and the dedication ceremony to be "wonderful."

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