Join BI Japanese-American Community March 30th in Commemorating 81st Anniversary of Forced Removal

Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion MemorialThe general public is invited to join the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Community (BIJAC) as it commemorates the 81st anniversary of the forced removal of Japanese-Americans citizens from Bainbridge Island on March 30, 1942.

This special event, which typically draws large crowds and media attention from Seattle and afar, will be held at the Japanese-American Exclusion Memorial, 4195 Eagle Harbor Drive NE, on the island’s south end, from 11 a.m.-noon next Thursday March 30, 2023. The Memorial is now a National Park.

“The theme this year is ‘We Remember Them,’” says Carol Reitz, BIJAC’s president and treasurer, “based on excerpts from a poem written by two Rabbis (see an excerpt below).

Last year’s commemorative drew a throng of more than 250 people and included speakers such as Gov. Jay Inslee, himself a Bainbridge resident. Inslee is not expected to appear, but there is an impressive line-up of presenters.

WhoWhat
Barbara Lawrence

Suquamish Tribe

 

Opening/Land Acknowledgement
Carol Reitz

Bainbridge Island Japanese American community

“We Remember Them”

lay out the flow of the program

Reading of the names, in silence, while strings of cranes are handed out.

When the music begins, you may make your way down to the wall, see the new art installation and experience the audio tour.

Ellen Sato-Faust and Val Tollefson

BI Japanese American Exclusion Memorial Assoc.

Memorial update
Clarence Moriwaki

Bainbridge Island City Council

BI City Proclamation
Vern Nakata

Town and Country

Suyematsu Farms – “At the rising and at its going down”
Drew Hansen

Representative 23rd Legislative District

Representative 23rd Legislative District
Chasity Malatesta, Multi-cultural Advisory Committee and Lucy Rector, 2023 Frank Kitamoto Student Scholarship winnerAs we have achievements that are based on theirs.

We remember Frank through the achievements of MAC; Frank Kitamoto award winner

Distribution of Cranes(silently hand out strings of cranes)
Ken Matsudaira

Bainbridge Island Museum of Art

Reading the 276 Names
Participants may walk the wall and put the cranes in placeEmily Groff’s recording of “Don’t Fence Me in”

Japanese American Exclusion Memorial gardensThe backstory of this 81st anniversary remembrance is worth repeating. Not long after Japanese Imperial forces bombed Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, an executive order was approved by President Roosevelt to forcibly remove Japanese-American citizens from Bainbridge Island and other communities around the country – primarily on West Coast.

On that day 81 years ago next week, 276 islanders were led on to a ferry at the end of Taylor Road by American soldiers and sailed off, most eventually ending up in internment camps in Idaho and California. Reitz says re-telling the story is essential to keeping history alive for those who may be ignorant of what occurred eight decades ago.

Japanese American Exclusion Memorial“I sometimes get asked, when conducting tours, or giving presentations about this subject,” Reitz explains, “why do we need to keep talking about this when it happened so long ago? Living in a world where groups of people are marginalized, threatened for who they are or what they look like or what they believe (in), means that this story must continue to be told.”

“One of our survivors, Lilly Kitamoto Kodama (age 7 in 1942),” she adds, “has conducted hundreds of tours, presentations, and been the subject of numerous documentaries.  When Lilly is asked why she continues to say yes to any request for interviews or tours, she says she is still surprised at how many people still don’t know about what happened in 1942, and she wants to refute claims of ‘fake news’.  And it keeps happening!”

BIHM-signIf you can’t make it to next Thursday event, you can watch the livestream on the BIJAC Facebook page or scan it on your phone.  Other events on March 30th include: the viewing of the new art installation on the Departure Deck at the Memorial dedicated last fall. According to Reitz, you can also try out a new audio tour addition to the Memorial, featuring personal accounts from those who were there in 1942.

Separately, the Bainbridge Island Historical Museum is hosting tea and cookies from 2-4 p.m. at the museum in Downtown Winslow. A recently restored original US Army poster instructing Japanese-Americans to leave the Island will be available for viewing.

BIJAC logoTo learn more about the island’s Japanese-American community visit: www.bijac.org. On the site, you can view some photos of people who have donated Origami cranes prior to the event on March 30th.

We Remember Them – Sylan Kamens and Rabbi Jack Riemer

At the rising sun and at its going down;

We remember them.

At the beginning of the year and when it ends;

We remember them.

When we are weary and in need of strength;

We remember them.

When we are lost and sick at heart;

We remember them.

When we have decisions that are difficult to make;

We remember them.

When we have joy we crave to share;

We remember them.

When we have achievements that are based on theirs;

We remember them.

For as long as we live, they too will live, for they are now a part of us as,

WE REMEMBER THEM.

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