On August 15, 1945, 68 year ago today, Japan surrendered to the Allied forces, signaling the end of World War II. For attitudes domestically in the U.S., WWII brought out the best and the worst in us. From the same president who brought us the Social Security Act and other saving elements of the New Deal also came Executive Order 9066, which imprisoned some 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry into relocation camps, the majority of whom were American-born citizens.
Exclusion Order posted to direct Japanese Americans living in the first San Francisco section to evacuate. Photo from National Archives.
In face of blatant adversity and discrimination, Japanese Americans remained loyal to Uncle Sam, heeding the call-to-arms and fighting in the European theater during WWII. The 442nd Regimental Combat Team, a unit of mostly American soldiers of Japanese descent, went on to become the most decorated regiment in the history of the U.S. Military, earning the nickname the “Purple Heart Battalion.”
Unfortunately after the war, Japanese Americans continued to face prejudice. Some lost their homes, their businesses, and others unwelcomed in their former communities.
Attitudes have certainly changed since then, reparations and apologies issued. But the brush of the “perpetual foreigner” remains.