Collections Up Close: Letters from Beyond the Fence

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(Photo courtesy of Deschutes Public Library)

On February 19, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066. The order, in response to the bombing of Pearl Harbor by Imperial Japan, resulted in the relocation and incarceration of over 120,000 persons of Japanese descent. Each year since 1978, a Day of Remembrance is held on February 19 to commemorate the signing of Executive Order 9066.

Deschutes Public Library, the Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center, Densho: The Japanese American Legacy Project and the Japanese Association of Central Oregon (JASCO) on Saturday, February 20, 2pm at Downtown Bend Library welcomes Weston Nakamura-Koyama, Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center museum collections volunteer, for a program tracing one family’s journey from the Portland to America’s concentration camps.

During his presentation Nakamura-Koyama will share the moving stories he uncovered from his family’s correspondence while they were incarcerated during World War II. The letters hold an extraordinary significance says Todd Mayberry, Director of Collections and Exhibits at the Oregon Nikkei Endowment. “Artifacts can give voice to family heartbreak and loss and inspire a new generation to share the stories they can tell,” he says.

Mayberry says that Day of Remembrance events are important and powerful reminders of past injustices. “Held in communities across the United States, this day makes sure we never forget the unjust incarceration of people of Japanese ancestry, the majority of whom were American citizens, so that this is never repeated again in our country,” he says. “One hopes the fear and hysteria in the name of national security that led to the incarceration of people based solely on race will never happen again,” says Mayberry. “We need timely reminders of past injustices to prevent future mistakes.”

For more information about this or other library programs, please visit the library website at www.deschuteslibrary.org. People with disabilities needing accommodations (alternative formats, seating or auxiliary aides) should contact Liz at 312-1032.

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