February 19

ManzanarSome days are just bittersweet. Today is one of them. Sweet because it’s my son’s 36th birthday. Bitter because we haven’t had any contact for several months. Actually no one in my family has. I pray he is safe.

I found this today. I didn’t know Executive Order 9066 was executed on February 19.

On February 19, 1942, following the bombing of Pearl Harbor by Japanese warplanes the previous December, U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt signed an executive order calling for the displacement of one hundred and twenty thousand Japanese Americans to internment camps. 

My sons’ have family members who were among the 120,000 Japanese Americans who were interned. Their great-grandmother, grandmother, and great-aunt were interned at Manzanar. Their great-grandfather was separated from the family and sent to a camp on the east coast. Their grandfather was a student at UCLA. Instead of being interned, he was drafted into the Army. Executive Order 9066 was a terrible blight in American history.

The thing about history is that it will repeat itself if we don’t listen. It’s time to listen to what we’re saying about immigration reform, violence, the immorality of stand your ground gun laws, affordable and accessible health care, voting rights, mental illness, human trafficking, marriage equality, global violence, and every other issue that touches humanity. It’s time to stop and take a breath. Think before we speak. Consider thoughtfully before we act hastily.

It comes down to this: How many wrongs will we allow because we dwell in fear? How long will we continue to turn our differences into discrimination? What are we willing to lose because we’re greedy and self-serving? Who or what will we sacrifice because we are unwilling to look at the bigger, more complicated picture?

I may not be able to stop an outcome, no matter how wrong it is, but I can retain my humanity in my own little sphere and not get sucked into the hysteria propagated by fear or terror. One by one, we can make a difference. One by one, we can make a change.

 

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