PRESIDENT CLINTON: TAKING ACTION TO HONOR
THE HISTORIC PATRIOTISM OF JAPANESE AMERICANS
November 9, 2000
Today, as hundreds of Americans gather in the nation?s capital to dedicate
the National Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism, President Clinton
directed the Secretary of Interior to take action to preserve Japanese
American internment camps and interpret the important lessons they offer
this nation -- thereby honoring the historic patriotism of Japanese
Americans. The President also signed legislation renaming a federal
courthouse in Seattle, Washington after William Kenzo Nakamura -- a
Japanese American interned during World War II who later enlisted in the
U.S. military and died while serving his country.
Working to Preserve Japanese American History.
Today, the President reaffirmed the nation?s commitment to honor the
historic patriotism of Japanese Americans and acknowledge the wrongs of the
past by directing the Secretary of the Interior to develop recommendations
in 60 days to preserve existing internment sites and provide for their
public interpretation ? thereby ensuring that the difficult lessons learned
from this chapter of American history are never forgotten.
In addition, Congress has approved $5.1 million in the FY 2001 budget to
establish a visitor center at the Manzanar National Historic Site, at a
former Japanese American internment camp in California. This funding
builds on the work of the Administration and numerous local and national
groups, including the White House Millennium Council?s Save America's
Treasures, the National Park Foundation, The Manzanar Fund, the Manzanar
Advisory Commission, and the Japanese American Citizens League. The new
center will allow visitors to learn from archival research and interviews
with former internees, architectural and archeological features of the
camp, and remaining artifacts.
On February 19, 1942, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066,
leading to the relocation and internment of 120,000 Japanese Americans. To
carry out the order, the United States government established internment
camps in Arizona, Arkansas, California, Utah, Idaho, Colorado, and other
states. Almost 50 years later, Congress passed the Civil Liberties Act of
1988, acknowledging that "a grave injustice was done to both citizens and
permanent residents of Japanese ancestry by the evacuation, relocation, and
internment of civilians during World War II." As a result, all Japanese
Americans who were subject to internment received a letter from the U.S.
Government that "acknowledged the wrongs of the past and offered redress to
those who endured such grave injustice."
Honoring an American Hero.
Today, the President also signed legislation designating the United States
Federal Courthouse for the Western District of Washington in Seattle,
Washington, as the William Kenzo Nakamura United States Courthouse. Born
in 1922, William Nakamura grew up in Seattle and was a student at the
University of Washington when he and 120,000 other Japanese Americans were
removed from their communities and forced into internment camps.
Despite the injustice of his internment, William Kenzo Nakamura enlisted in
the 442d Regimental Combat Team and later died fighting for this country in
Italy on July 4, 1944, while providing cover for his retreating platoon. On
June 21, 2000, President Clinton posthumously awarded the Congressional
Medal of Honor to Mr. Nakamura, along with 21 other Asian Americans.
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