Day of Remembrance

The Day of Remembrance (DOR) was created as an annual observance of  Executive Order #9066, signed by Franklin D. Roosevelt on February 19, 1942, forcing all persons of Japanese ancestry on the West Coast to leave their homes for confinement in inland detention camps. During the period from 1942 to 1946, some 77,000 American-born citizens (Nisei) and 45,000 Japanese nationals, most of whom were permanent U.S. residents (Issei), were deprived of liberty and property without criminal charges or trial.

The first DOR was held  on November 25, 1978, at the Puyallup Fairgrounds in Washington, one of twenty temporary government detention centers during the early months of World War II. An estimated 3,200 people attended, despite some opposition from the local American Legion. 

The next year, on February 17, 1979, Oregon held its first DOR at the former Pacific International Livestock Exposition, where, in 1942, animal stables had been turned into living quarters for more than 3,500 Japanese Americans, the site of the Portland Assembly Center.

Thirty-seven years after the signing of the executive order and forty-six years after President Ronald Reagan signed the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 and apologized for the government's "mistake," some 1,000 Oregonians came together to receive this public recognition of a forgotten injustice. Mayor Neil Goldschmidt declared this a Day of Remembrance in Oregon; speakers included Oregonian Minoru Yasui, who had openly challenged the constitutionality of the government's curfew order. Exhibits of artwork and other objects handcrafted in the camps—bits of obsidian, walking sticks made of limbs of sagebrush, greasewood furniture—were displayed.

Portland and Eugene continue to hold annual DORs, broadening their advocacy for civil rights by speaking out for others, including Arab Americans and Native Americans. Hood River, which in 1945 achieved notoriety as a hotbed of anti-Japanese sentiment, also held a DOR in 2007, planned and organized by Joan Yasui Emerson, Min Yasui's niece. In 2008, Willamette University, in Salem, featured Oregon poet laureate Lawson Inada at its DOR. From 1978 to the present, the Day of Remembrance has become a forum for Oregonians—and citizens in many West Coast cities—to remember the past and renew their commitment for citizens' rights.

Author


Map It


Further Reading

Azuma, Eiichiro. "A History of Oregon's Issei, 1880-1952." Oregon Historical Quarterly 94, 1993-4: 315-67.

Tamura, Linda. The Hood River Issei: An Oral History of Japanese Settlers in Oregon' Hood River Valley. Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 1993.

http://www.dayofremembrance.org/


Related Articles

Japanese American Historical Plaza.
Japanese American Historical Plaza (Portland)

Using thirteen engraved stones of basalt and granite, the Japanese American Historical Plaza in Portland tells an important story of the Japanese in Oregon. Landscape architect Robert Murase created the theme and design of the plaza to tell the story of the hardships suffered by Japanese immigrants and the indignities ...

Frank Hachiya
Japanese Americans in Oregon

Immigrants from the West

Resting in the shade of the Gresham Pioneer Cemetery, there is a grave marker with the name Miyo Iwakoshi. The name is not widely known in Oregon, but it is historically significant since Iwakoshi was the matriarch of the first Japanese family to settle in the ...

Japanese American Wartime Incarceration in Oregon

Masuo Yasui, together with many members of Hood River’s Japanese community, spent the evening of December 6, 1941, rehearsing the annual Christmas show at a local community center. Yasui, an Issei (first-generation immigrant from Japan) had traveled to America in 1903 at the age of sixteen and eventually settled in ...

Minoru Yasui (1916-1986)

Minoru Yasui was born in Hood River on October 16, 1916, the third son of Japanese immigrants Shidzuyo and Masuo Yasui. In 1939, Yasui became the first Japanese American to graduate from the University of Oregon School of Law and the first Japanese American member of the Oregon Bar. He ...

Related Historical Records


This entry was last updated on March 17, 2018