Sunday, March 28, 2010

Penned In

ESPN’s Outside the Lines examines Japanese-American internment through the sports prism: Santa Anita Park near Los Angeles was used as a sort of way station where internees were housed before being dispatched to points East. To add to the indignity of being rounded up like criminals and losing their homes, businesses, and property, the internees were forced to sleep in the Santa Anita stables. However, to prove that everything comes full circle, the piece concludes with a mention of jockey Corey Nakatani, whose grandfather passed through Santa Anita in 1942. Corey has won more than 900 races at Santa Anita. In addition to watching Corey race, many former internees conduct period reunions at Santa Anita.

Several other sources offer more perspective on Japanese-American internment. There is of course the standard Farewell to Manzanar, which most Californians read in school sometime between seventh and ninth grade. For a fictionalized account of one family’s experience, there is Julie Otsukua’s stirring and moving When the Emperor was Divine. (The title alone caught my interest.) Finally, if you’re ever in Washington, DC, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History has a comprehensive internment exhibit within “The Price of Freedom: Americans at War” wing. If you can’t make it to DC, take this virtual tour.