Minidoka National Historic Site
Formerly Known As
Minidoka National Historic Site is
a National Historic Site is located in Jerome County,
National Historic Site is a National Historic Site that commemorates the
1800s, many emigrants from
Executive Order 9066 gave the Secretary of War and the military commanders the power to exclude any persons from designated areas to secure national defense objectives against sabotage and espionage.
The order led to the internment of Japanese Americans or AJAs (Americans of Japanese Ancestry); some 120,000 ethnic Japanese people were held in internment camps for the duration of the war.
Americans of Italian and German ancestry were also targeted by these
restrictions, including internment. 11,000 people of German ancestry were
interned, as were 3,000 people of Italian ancestry, along with some Jewish
refugees. The Jewish refugees who were interned came from
public pressure the order was mainly used to exclude persons of Japanese
ancestry, both American citizen and legal resident aliens, from coastal areas
including portions of
120,000 persons of Japanese ancestry (Nikkei) living on the West Coast were
forced to leave their homes, jobs, and businesses behind and report to
designated military holding areas. This constituted the single largest forced
Minidoka’s first internees arrived to find a camp still under construction. There was no hot running water and the sewage system had not been constructed. The initial reaction to the stark landscape by many was one of discouragement.
The camp consisted of administration and warehouse buildings, 36 residential blocks, schools, fire stations, an assortment of shops and stores, a hospital, and a cemetery. Each residential block included twelve barracks-style buildings (each divided into six small one-room apartments), a communal dining hall, a laundry facility with communal showers and toilets, and a recreation hall. Provisions within the barracks consisted of Army issue cots and a pot-bellied stove. Light was provided by a single hanging bulb.
Scraps of lumber and sage brush were utilized to make furniture. Coal for the stoves and water had to be hand carried. When coal supplies ran low, sagebrush was gathered and burned.
The hastily built barracks buildings were little more than wooden frames covered with tarpaper and had no insulation. Temperatures in the winter of 1942 plunged to 21 degrees below zero. Over 100 tons of coal a day was needed for heating the buildings. They had to endure ankle deep mud in the spring and temperatures of 104 degrees and blinding dust storms in the summer.
Mud from rain and melting snow, Minidoka Relocation Camp, December 10, 1942 Photographer Stewart, Francis.
the harsh conditions at Minidoka, internees were resourceful. They built
baseball diamonds and small parks with picnic areas. There baseball team was
virtually unbeatable. Taiko drumming and other musical groups were formed, and
a newspaper written by the internees was published, the Minidoka Irrigator.
To create beauty in an otherwise dismal landscape, paths were lined with decorative stones and traditional Japanese gardens were planted. By the time the center closed in 1945 internees had cleared and cultivated 950 acres of inhospitable land and constructed the ditches and canals needed to irrigate them.
their internment, most Japanese Americans remained intensely loyal to the
442nd Regimental Combat Team of the United States Army was an all Japanese
American unit. They fought primarily in
Japanese-American infantrymen of the
442nd Regimental Combat Team hike up a muddy French road in the Chambois Sector, France, in late 1944. (
the years of incarceration the internees had transformed many acres of high
desert into viable agricultural land. After the camp closed in October 1945,
the land was subdivided into smaller farms and auctioned to the highest bidders
or given to WWII veterans along with two barracks buildings and one smaller
building. The drawing was by lottery. Preference was given to WWII veterans on
both the lottery and sale of the farms. Many of the buildings from the camp
were also dispersed to government agencies and nonprofit organizations. Today,
most of the former
internment camp site was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on
July 10, 1979. The site was established in 2001, and as one of the newest units
of the National Park System, it does not yet have any visitor facilities or
services available on location. However, a temporary exhibit and information
about the monument is on display at the visitor center of the nearby
Executive Order 9066 was rescinded by Gerald Ford on February 19, 1976.
In 1980, Jimmy Carter signed legislation to create the Commission on Wartime
Relocation and Internment of Civilians (CWRIC). The CWRIC was appointed to
conduct an official governmental study of Executive Order 9066, related wartime
orders, and their impact on Japanese Americans in the West and Alaska Natives
In December 1982, the CWRIC issued its findings in Personal Justice Denied, concluding that the incarceration of Japanese Americans had not been justified by military necessity. The report determined that the decision to incarcerate was based on “race prejudice, war hysteria, and a failure of political leadership.” The Commission recommended legislative remedies consisting of an official Government apology and redress payments of $20,000 to each of the survivors; a public education fund was set up to help ensure that this would not happen again (Public Law 100-383).
U.S. President Ronald Reagan signs the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, which granted reparations for the internment of Japanese Americans
On August 10, 1988, the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, based on the CWRIC recommendations, was signed into law by Ronald Reagan. On November 21, 1989, George H.W. Bush signed an appropriation bill authorizing payments to be paid out between 1990 and 1998. In 1990, surviving internees began to receive individual redress payments and a letter of apology.
Copyright 2011 All rights reserved.
Published in September/October El-Wyhee Hi-Lites
Source: Wikipedia & NPS & on site location tour by Rangers Erin Cahill and Annette Rousseau (Thank you!).
# # #
Japanese-American Vets Receive Bronze Star Medals
by C. Todd Lopez, Army News Service
Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond T. Odierno pins a Bronze Star on Medal of Honor recipient
George Joe Sakato at a Nov. 1, 2011, ceremony in
Washington, D.C., in which 40 World War II soldiers from all-Japanese-American
units -- the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, the 100th Infantry Battalion and the
Military Intelligence Service -- were awarded the Bronze Star.
The Japanese-American soldiers fought as part of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, the 100th Infantry Battalion and the Military Intelligence Service.
Army officials decided that all soldiers who wore the Combat Infantry Badge from World War II were owed a Bronze Star; some, however, never received theirs.
Getting such an award, in many cases, depended on "how good your clerk was, ... and some of the clerks were not that great," said retired Army Lt. Gen. Joseph F. Peterson. It's really a matter of poor paperwork that the soldiers had to wait so long to get their Bronze Stars, he added.
The general organized a
three-day recognition of Japanese-American soldiers in
At the event, 31 of those soldiers were present to have the medal pinned on their chest by Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond T. Odierno. Another nine Bronze Stars were provided to the family members of soldiers who could not attend or who have died.
"It's amazing to get a star like
this," said Don K. Masuda, one of the recipients of the award. The former
soldier attended the event with his wife, his daughter, and two of his
grandsons. He said he's led "a pretty good life" since leaving the
Army, which has included being a co-owner of a shipping business in his native
He served as an infantryman in World War II,
Fellow 442nd RCT soldier George Joe Sakato was also at the award ceremony -- both as a recipient of the Bronze Star and as a speaker. Sakato is one of 21 Japanese-American Medal of Honor recipients to come out of the 442nd RCT and 100th Infantry Battalion.
On behalf of the 33,000 Japanese-Americans soldiers who served in World War II, Sakato thanked Congress for the Congressional Gold Medal they are received. He also thanked his country for the opportunity to earn that honor.
"We also thank the government, which
allowed us to serve in the U.S. Army to defend our country and to prove our
Odierno reiterated for those at the event the greatness of the Japanese-American soldiers' service and the service of all who served in World War II, calling them "the greatest generation."
But the general also touched on the tragedy
those soldiers faced that other soldiers did not. Many of their families back
home were locked away in camps and branded as enemies of
"From the shock of
Those Japanese-American soldiers, he said, served as infantrymen, linguists, military intelligence specialists and artillerymen.
"Over 33,000 Japanese-Americans served in the war," Odierno said. "And of those, over 13,000 served in the 442nd, and earned over 9,000 Purple Hearts."
The 442nd became the most highly decorated unit in the Army's history, Odierno said. The 442nd and the 100th Infantry Battalion together earned seven Presidential Unit Citations, two Meritorious Service Plaques, 36 Army Commendation Medals, and 87 Division Commendations. Individually, soldiers earned 21 Medals of Honor, 29 Distinguished Service Crosses, one Distinguished Service Medal, more than 354 Silver Stars, and more than 4,000 Purple Hearts.
"Together, they define the ethos that we all live by today: 'Never leave a fallen comrade,'" Odierno said.
The experience of World War II provided a lesson about tolerance, the general said.
"The lesson of the Japanese-American experience is that fear and prejudice make our country weaker, not stronger," Odierno said. "Japanese-Americans, like others, have more than earned their place in our country, in our Army, and in our society -- a melting pot to include African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans and today, Arab-Americans."
About 240 veterans attended the Bronze Star event. Another 100 spouses of deceased veterans also attended, as did about 500 family members representing soldiers.
Peterson, who has Japanese ancestry, said
the event was both to honor those soldiers who served, and to educate
"It's educational for our nation to
know that a group of soldiers and a group of Americans, who because of the mass
hysteria when the imperial military of
About 120,000 Japanese-Americans were rounded up, Peterson said, and put into any of 10 internment camps across nine states.
"Out of those camps came a demand, by 65 percent of them -- 65 percent of 120,000 internees -- to serve their country in a time of war," he said.
Those soldiers who served in units like the 442nd RCT, the 100th Infantry Battalion and the Military Intelligence Service, Peterson said, averaged number three individual awards for heroism.
"They are the most decorated unit in
Medal of Honor recipient George Joe Sakato speaks at a Nov. 1, 2011, ceremony in Washington,
D.C., in which 40 World War II soldiers from all-Japanese-American units -- the
442nd Regimental Combat Team, the 100th Infantry Battalion and the Military
Intelligence Service -- were awarded the Bronze Star.