A Uniquely American Story

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by Mark Shields

Feb. 19, 1942, was not President Franklin Roosevelt's finest day. Some 10 weeks after Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor, FDR signed Executive Order 9066, which violated the legal rights of some 120,000 Japanese Americans.

In short order, people of Japanese descent were given just 48 hours to dispose of their homes, their farms, their businesses. Their investments and their bank accounts were expropriated.

Let us listen to the painful memories of a 10-year-old American citizen: "My own family was sent first to Santa Anita racetrack. We showered in the horse paddocks. Some families lived in converted stables, others in hastily thrown together barracks." That boy and his family were sent for three years to what FDR himself conceded was a "concentration camp" at Heart Mountain, Wyoming.



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