Executive Order 9066 Was Signed 75 Years Ago Today

Paved way for internment of more than 120K people
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 19, 2017 3:51 PM CST
Executive Order 9066 Was Signed 75 Years Ago Today
In this Feb. 10, 2017 photo, Hiroshi Kashiwagi holds 1945 photos of himself at an internment camp in Tule Lake, Calif., at his home in San Francisco. Today, Kashiwagi, 94, is a poet and writer who speaks to the public about life at Tule Lake, a maximum security camp near the Oregon border.    (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

There's one date that will live in infamy, per President Roosevelt, but Feb. 19, 1942, might qualify, too. It was on this day 75 years ago that FDR signed Executive Order 9066, which laid the groundwork for the internment of Japanese Americans. NBC News reports that some 80,000 native-born citizens were incarcerated in one of 10 hastily constructed camps along with some 40,000 immigrants. An apology was made by President Ford in 1976, and reparations for the "grave injustice" were authorized by Congress in 1988, Smithsonian reports. As the anniversary is marked, some of the best reading on the subject:

  • "When I was in elementary school I never even heard that this had occurred." That's changed for William Belcher, who is now leading an archaeological effort to excavate the Honouliuli Internment and POW Camp on O'ahu. Read it at NBC News.
  • Last summer, NPR reporter Lisa Morehouse traveled with Riichi Fuwa to what's left of Tule Lake camp, which sits just south of the Oregon border. "I wanted to see the place for the last time," the 98-year-old says. She looks at it through the lens of the forced agriculture that occurred there.

  • In an editorial, the Los Angeles Times looks back on what it calls its "shameful response" to internment, which read in part, "The time has come to realize that the rigors of war demand proper detention of Japanese and their immediate removal from the most acute danger spots. It is not a pleasant task. But it must be done and done now. There is no safe alternative."
  • You likely know Dorothea Lange for her famed Dust Bowl photos (especially this one) from the 1930s, but the War Relocation Authority hired her in 1942 to photograph the incarceration of Japanese Americans. Her photos were embargoed by the government for three decades. NBC News reports on her "misgivings" about what was happening.
  • Read Executive Order 9066, which doesn't actually refer to Japanese Americans, at the National Archives, which also offers a history of the internment.
  • Smithsonian has the story of Fred Korematsu, who fought against internment all the way to the Supreme Court (and told police he had minor surgery in an attempt to change his appearance).

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