Photo Story

By: Justin Merriman and William Newman

Life before Pearl Harbor and immediately after Pearl Harbor.

I lived a normal life before Pearl Harbor. When I was young I was able to attend school with many other children of different ethnicity. I got married and had a few kids before Pearl Harbor. I was just as surprised as everyone else when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. I thought my family and I would be fine because we were American citizens.

Reactions of their neighbors, etc. Also where the people lived.

My family and I lived in San Francisco, California before we were sent to the internment camp. I had lived in San Francisco my entire life before my family was relocated. Our neighbors had mixed reactions about the Japanese being relocated by the government. Some were glad to see us go and weren't afraid to show it, while others were sad and came to say goodbye. There were also others that avoided us after the notice showed up.

Notice of forced Internment.

I remember the day that I first witnessed the notice that informed us to leave our homes, take a few belongings, and leave our lives. When I first saw the notice, I was furious and upset. I remember hearing the news that we were supposed to leave our homes and be relocated in February of 1942. The Notice said “Instructions to all persons of Japanese ancestry” the notice said that we were to leave our homes and go to a relocation center. FDR signed Executive Order 9066 which authorized the Secretary of War to establish military zones which were actually relocation centers that were created for Japanese Americans like myself.

What they could take with them and what happened to their homes, businesses, etc.

I remember going home and having to decide what I was going to take with me and what I was going to leave behind. I made the decision and chose to bring with me my clothes, a couple of books, and my family heirlooms. I was forced to sell my shop in which my family had owned for almost 80 years. I could not bring myself to sell the house because I had lost so much money on the shop that if I were to have sold the house I would not have made enough money from the sale to buy another house when I came back. Not only was I forced to sell my shop, I also had to decide what my family and I were to take with us.

Transportation to the camp.

This was the location where all the Japanese Americans were supposed to leave their belongings and await the train. That was the crowd that watched our train depart from the station to the relocation center. There were a couple thousand people on board of that train as we departed for the relocation center. The seating on train was compact and it was extremely crowded.

Camp life conditions, location, rules, when it opened and closed, lifestyle, barracks, and how they lived.

The internment camp that I was relocated to with my family was the Manzanar camp which was located in Owens Valley of California. The Manzanar camp was opened in March of 1942 when my family, which was one of the very first to enter the camp, arrived. The internment camp had a 500-acre housing section that was surrounded by barbed wire and there were also eight guard towers with searchlights which did not install a sense of security but instead a sense of fear. There were about two hundred to even four hundred people that live in each block. The Manzanar internment camp closed on November 21st of 1945, this was three months after Japan had surrendered, and was also the day that were allowed to leave Manzanar.