Milton Eisenhower (narrator) When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, our
west coast became a potential combat zone. Living in that zone were more than 100,000
persons of Japanese ancestry. Two-thirds of them American citizens. One-third aliens.
We knew that some among them were potentially dangerous. No one knew what would happen among
this concentrated population if Japanese forces should try to invade our shores.
Military authorities therefore determined that all of them, citizens and aliens alike,
would have to move. This picture tells how the mass migration
was accomplished. Neither the Army nor the War Relocation Authority relish the idea of
taking men, women and children from their homes, their shops and their farms. So the
military and civilian agencies alike determined to do the job as a democracy should – with
real consideration for the people involved. First attention was given to the problems
of sabotage and espionage. Now, here at San Francisco for example, convoys were being
made up within sight of possible Axis agents. There were more Japanese in Los Angeles than
in any other area. In nearby San Pedro, houses and hotels occupied almost exclusively by
Japanese were within a stone’s throw of a Naval airbase, shipyards, oil wells. Japanese
fishermen had every opportunity to watch the movement of our ships. Japanese farmers
were living close to vital aircraft plants. So, in the first step, all Japanese were required
to move from critical areas such as these. But of course, this limited evacuation was
a solution to only part of the problem. The larger problem – the uncertainty of what
would happen among these people in case of a Japanese invasion – still remained. That
is why the commanding general of the Western Defense Command determined that all Japanese
within the coastal area should move inland. Immediately, the Army began mapping evacuation
areas and, for a time, encouraged the Japanese to leave voluntarily. The trouble for the
voluntary evacuees soon threatened in their new locations. So the program was quickly
put on a planned and protected basis. Thereafter, the American citizen Japanese and Japanese aliens
made plans in accordance with Army orders. Notices were posted. All persons of Japanese
descent were required to register. They gathered in their own churches and schools, and the
Japanese themselves cheerfully handled the enormous paperwork involved in the migration.
Civilian physicians made preliminary medical examinations. Government agencies helped in
a hundred ways. They helped the evacuees find tenants for their farms. They helped businessmen
lease, sell, or store their property. Now this aid was financed by the government,
but quick disposal of property often involved financial sacrifice for the evacuees. Now the actual migration got underway. The
Army provided fleets of vans to transport household belongings, and buses to move the
people to assembly centers. The evacuees cooperated whole-heartedly. The many loyal among them
felt that this was a sacrifice they could make in behalf of America’s war effort. In small towns as well as large, up and down
the coast, the moving continued. Behind them they left shops and homes
they had occupied for many years. [background music] Their fishing fleets were impounded and left
under guard. Now they were taken to race tracks and fairgrounds
where the Army almost overnight had built assembly centers. They lived here until new
pioneer communities could be completed on federally owned lands in the interior. Santa
Anita racetrack, for example, suddenly became a community of about 17,000 persons. The Army
provided housing and plenty of healthful nourishing food for all.
The residents of the new community set about developing a way of life as nearly normal
as possible. They held church services – Protestant, Catholic, and Buddhist.
They issued their own newspaper, organized nursery schools, and some made camouflage
nets for the United States Army. Meanwhile, in Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming,
and elsewhere, quarters were being built where they would have an opportunity to work and
more space in which to live. When word came that these new homes were ready, the final
movement began. [background music] At each relocation center, the evacuees were
met by an advance contingent of Japanese who had arrived some days earlier and who now acted
as guides. Naturally the newcomers looked about with some curiosity. They were in a
new area, on land that was raw, untamed, but full of opportunity. Here they would build
schools, educate their children, reclaim the desert. Their own physicians took precautions to guard
against epidemics. They opened advanced Americanization classes for college students, who in turn
would instruct other groups. They made a rough beginning at self government.
For awhile the Army would guard the outer limits of each area. Community life and security
within were largely up to the Japanese themselves. They immediately saw the need for developing
civic leaders. At weekly community meetings citations were given to the block leaders
who had worked most diligently. Special emphasis was put on the health and care
of these American children of Japanese descent. [background music] Their parents, most of whom are American citizens
and their grandparents, who are aliens, immediately wanted to go to work. At Manzanar they built
a lathe house and began rooting guayle cuttings. The plants, when mature, will add
to our rubber supply. At Parker, they undertook the irrigation of
fertile desert lands. Meanwhile, in areas away from the coast and
under appropriate safeguards, many were permitted to enter private employment, particularly
to work in sugar beet fields where labor was badly needed. Now, this brief picture is actually the prologue
to a story that has yet to be told. The full story will begin to unfold when the raw lands
of the desert turn green, when all adult hands are at productive work on public lands or
in private employment. It will be fully told only when circumstances permit the loyal American
citizens once again to enjoy the freedom we in this country cherish, and when the disloyal,
we hope, have left this country for good. In the mean time, we are setting a standard
for the rest of the world in the treatment of people who may have loyalties to an enemy
nation. We are protecting ourselves without violating the principles of Christian decency.
And we won’t change this fundamental decency no matter what our enemies do. But of course,
we hope most earnestly that our example will influence the Axis powers in their treatment
of Americans who fall into their hands.