Friday, April 18, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Korematsu celebrated at namesake school

0211Korematsu1W

Korematsu Elementary School students perform during a day of celebration. Fred Gladdis/Enterprise photo

When the orders came for Japanese Americans along the West Coast to report for incarceration in internment camps in 1942, 23-year-old Fred Korematsu refused.

He went into hiding in Oakland, but eventually was found, arrested and convicted of defying the government’s order.

His case was ultimately appealed all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court — unsuccessfully, it turned out — and eventually Korematsu found himself in the place he sought to avoid: in an internment camp in Topaz, Utah.

There, he suffered for his actions, his daughter, Karen, told students and parents at Korematsu’s namesake school in Davis late last month.

He was vilified, she said.

“He was alone … he had brought shame to his own family,” she said. “He didn’t have friends. Even his brothers deserted him.”

Decades later, of course, he is a hero — celebrated in California on the Fred T. Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the Constitution, and celebrated every year at Korematsu Elementary School in Davis. But at the time, he stood alone.

“There were very few people who spoke up,” said Marielle Tsukamoto, a former Elk Grove teacher and internment camp survivor. “Fred Korematsu was one of them and he was punished for it.”

Tsukamoto and Karen Korematsu were among those attending a celebration at Korematsu Elementary School that included songs, a book reading by Davis psychologist and author Loriene Honda — whose father, Lawrence, was interned at Manzanar — as well as panelists who answered students’ questions about the internment camps.

Honda, who had been honored earlier that day at the state Capitol, read from her book, “The Cat who Chose to Dream,” which tells of life in an internment camp from the perspective of a cat who snuck into a camp with his family in order to bear witness to history.

The story was based on an actual person, Ralph Lazo, who wasn’t even Japanese but chose to go to Manzanar to witness what was being done to his friends. But not all Americans felt the way Lazo did — that the incarceration of Japanese-Americans was wrong.

In fact, said former internee Mas Hatano, “The majority were happy to see us go.”

One Korematsu student asked how the internees felt about being betrayed by their own country.

Susan Kotarek, a former internee who has three grandchildren attending Korematsu, said many of them complied quietly because they wanted to prove they were good Americans.

Karen Korematsu — whose father did not comply — said, “There was no due process, no charges, no hearings and no day in court,” even though two-thirds of internees were American citizens.

“My father learned about the constitution in high school … and was dismayed the Supreme Court did not find it unconstitutional,” she added.

Another student asked what kept the internees from escaping.

A chain-link fence, several panelists replied.

One described seeing a man shot when he ventured too close to the fence. Another noted that half the internees were children not inclined to flee.

Asked what their best memories were of the camps, as well as the worst, most pointed to the friendships they made — with people they otherwise would never have met — as the best thing to come out of the experience.

But there was a lot of bad, the survivors said, including waking up every morning to the sight of barbed-wire fences.

Honda has said her father came out of the experience as “one of the most kind and gentle people I know.”

It was his story — as well as her work as a child psychologist in Davis working with children who have been neglected, abused or traumatized — that led her to write “The Cat Who Chose to Dream.”

The book features the artwork of Jimmy Tsutomu Mirikitani, who spent much of World War II at the Tule Lake internment camp, and features a special forward by actor George Takei, who also was imprisoned at Tule Lake.

Honda read aloud from the book during Korematsu’s celebration and will have upcoming book readings as well, including at The Avid Reader in May.

— Reach Anne Ternus-Bellamy at aternus@davisenterprise.net or 530-747-8051. Follow her on Twitter at @ATernusBellamy

Anne Ternus-Bellamy

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Davis Enterprise does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

     
    Chuck Rairdan joins school board race

    By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A1, 2 Comments

    Going green at church, school, everywhere

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Former caretaker convicted of murder, elder abuse

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A1, 4 Comments | Gallery

    Old friend helps Brad and others find kidneys

    By Dave Jones | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    UCD to host Global Health Day event

    By Cory Golden | From Page: A2

    Ukraine insurgents reject call to quit buildings

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2, 3 Comments

     
    For the record

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

     
    Need a new best friend?

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3 | Gallery

    ‘Hitchhiking’ dog looking for new home

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A3 | Gallery

     
    Event to provide nature scholarship

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Online K-12 school holds info night

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Volkssporting Club plans North Davis walks

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Schwenger lawn signs available

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A4

     
    Volunteers needed for Grad Night

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Davis grad makes rain collection a business

    By Jason McAlister | From Page: A4 | Gallery

     
    A few spots left on history tour

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Chipotle fundraiser boosts Emerson tech upgrade

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Students have new options on leasing front

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5 | Gallery

    Groups join for a day of service

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

     
    NAMI backers walk in Sacramento

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

     
    Food for the hungry

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A10

    .

    Forum

    Dad makes mom look bad

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B5

     
    In search of great ideas

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6, 1 Comment

    Please keep the nursery open

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

     
    Early help is a great investment

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

    More tax money? Answer the question

    By Rich Rifkin | From Page: A6, 4 Comments

     
    UCD IS responsible for students

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6, 4 Comments

     
    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A6

    .

    Sports

    DHS’ Golston goes full-bore on the diamond

    By Thomas Oide | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Devils show more life in loss to Mitty

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

    Sharks double up Kings in Game 1

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

     
    Aggies lose a slugfest in opener at Riverside

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

    Fox coming to UCD; Riffle heads to Florida

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

     
    DYSA roundup: Intensity has big week; 10U games dominate schedule

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

    Sports briefs: Aggies set the academic bar high

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B8 | Gallery

     
    Pro baseball roundup: Susac sends Sacramento to a rare loss

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

    .

    Features

    .

    Arts

    ‘Transcendence’: A whole new level of tedium

    By Derrick Bang | From Page: A11 | Gallery

     
    ‘The Bloom’ paves way for Whole Earth Festival

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

    DHS tribute to Tony Fields slated for April 25-26

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

     
    UCD, city team up for Music on the Green

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

    .

    Business

    Ford turns its Focus to domestic market

    By Ali Arsham | From Page: B3 | Gallery

     
    .

    Obituaries

    .

    Comics

    Comics: Friday, April 18, 2014

    By Creator | From Page: A9

     
    .

    Real Estate Review

    Featured Listing

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER1

    Professional Services Directory

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER2

    Lyon Real Estate

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER3

    Acacia at Huntington Square

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER4

    Jamie Madison

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER4

    Yolo FCU

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER4

    Travis Credit Union

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER5

    Kim Eichorn

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER6

    Suzanne Kimmel

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER6

    Lynne Wegner

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER7

    Kim Merrel Lamb

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER7

    Patricia Echevarria

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER8

    Chris Snow

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER8

    Andrew Dowling

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER9

    Sheryl Patterson

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER9

    Don Guthrie

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER9

    Coldwell Banker

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER10

    Coldwell Banker

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER11

    Heather Barnes

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER12

    Julie Partain & Dick Partain

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER12

    Malek Baroody

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER13

    Karen Waggoner

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER14

    Willowbank Park

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER14

    Team Traverso

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER15

    Julie Leonard

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER15

    Tim Harrison

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER15

    Tracy Harris

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER16

    Lori Prizmich

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER16

    Joe Kaplan

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER17

    Raul Zamora

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER17

    Coldwell Banker

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER18

    Open House Map

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER19

    F1rst Street Real Estate

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER20