75 years ago on February 19, 1942, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066. This order authorized the Secretary of War to prescribe certain areas as military zones, clearing the way for the internment of Japanese Americans to internment camps in the United States. More than 120,000 Japanese Americans were forced out of their homes and placed into detention centers with unlivable conditions, all in the name of national security.
This day is particularly important to us as our President seeks to ban an entire religious group from our country.
The following is a poem written by an unknown Japanese American inprisoned in an internment camp reflecting our shared humanity.
THAT DAMNED FENCE
They’ve sunk the posts deep into the ground
They’ve strung out wires all the way around.
With machine gun nests just over there,
And sentries and soldiers everywhere.
We’re trapped like rats in a wired cage,
To fret and fume with impotent rage;
Yonder whispers the lure of the night,
But that DAMNED FENCE assails our sight.
We seek the softness of the midnight air,
But that DAMNED FENCE in the floodlight glare
Awakens unrest in our nocturnal quest,
And mockingly laughs with vicious jest.
With nowhere to go and nothing to do,
We feed terrible, lonesome, and blue:
That DAMNED FENCE is driving us crazy,
Destroying our youth and making us lazy.
Imprisoned in here for a long, long time,
We know we’re punished–though we’ve committed no crime,
Our thoughts are gloomy and enthusiasm damp,
To be locked up in a concentration camp.
Loyalty we know, and patriotism we feel,
To sacrifice our utmost was our ideal,
To fight for our country, and die, perhaps;
But we’re here because we happen to be Japs.
We all love life, and our country best,
Our misfortune to be here in the west,
To keep us penned behind that DAMNED FENCE,
Is someone’s notion of NATIONAL DEFENCE!