I’ve shared before that I co-direct and curate my district’s Time of Remembrance Oral Histories Project (TOR) with my colleague Kathleen Watt. Of all the interviews we have recorded for TOR, we continue to share Reiko Nagumo’s interview in our workshops, webinars, articles, and more. Start to finish, it is a beautiful story of loss and resilience.
If we are under a time constraint, we direct participants and readers to Clip 2 (04:52 ), with this short descriptor:
“In 2nd grade when war started. Shares story of her friendship with Mary Frances – ‘speaking volumes without saying anything.’ In camp from 1942-1945. Talks about returning to school.”
The courage of Mary Frances – a 2nd grader who crossed the playground to welcome Reiko back on the day she returned from the forced removal of her family and imprisonment in the Heart Mountain internment camp – truly ‘speaks volumes’ and demonstrates the lifetime impact of small acts of courage and kindness.
In case you missed our previous posts (“We’ll Meet Again” – Premiere Episode: Reiko Nagumo” and “PBS: We’ll Meet Again – Reiko Nagumo Reunited With Her Upstander“), it was 10 years ago that we (Elk Grove USD, in partnership with SECCTV), conducted the interview with Reiko, so you can probably imagine our excitement when CSU Sacramento Librarian/Archivist Julie Thomas sent out the “We’ll Meet Again” email announcing that, 70 years later, Reiko had found Mary Frances! It was thanks to the efforts of Ann Curry and PBS that the reunion happened. And how fortunate for all of us who treasure this World War II story that Curry and the PBS film crew were there (Japanese Tea Garden, Golden Gate Park, CA) to document the moment as part of the series. The theme for Episode 1 was Children of WWII. This short trailerwill give you a glimpse into both Reiko’s story and Curry’s style.
What could be better than viewing Reiko and Mary Frances’ story via PBS? How about traveling down to Sacramento’s California Museum to spend an evening with Reiko … and Mary Frances?! Yes, Mary Frances flew out from her home in Kentucky to visit again with Reiko, this time spending the morning with Reiko at the Museum to share their stories with visiting classrooms of 5th grade students from the Sacramento region, including one from EGUSD’s Anna Kirchgater Elementary. A shout out to the Museum and KVIE for hosting the evening event, to Rob on the Road for balancing our tears with laughter, and to Marielle Tsukamoto and Christine Umeda for getting the word out!
As soon as KVIE posts video from the event, we will share it with our readers.
It will be a long time to come before we forget this evening.