Muddling through the blogosphere

Constitution Day 2011 – A West Coast Perspective

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Image from the National Constitution Center

I teach in the Elk Grove School District, a large K-12 district south of Sacramento, California.  Following the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the history of this once rural community forever changed. As the nation entered World War II, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, authorizing the removal and “relocation” of thousands of Japanese-Americans from the West Coast. Virtually overnight U.S. citizens of Japanese heritage disappeared from the farming communities of the Sacramento valley.

Today is September 17, the official date designated by legislation passed in 2005 to celebrate U.S. Constitution Day. The Japanese internment story is a powerful example of why it is so important for us (especially educators) to understand – and to be willing to fight for – the Constitutional Rights guaranteed to every citizen.

Last week I uploaded to my district’s Time of Remembrance website 10 new interviews with Japanese-Americans from the Sacramento area. Each story is a reminder of what can happen if we allow the loss of rights to any group of people to go unchallenged.

The new additions to the Time of Remembrance Interview Archives include first-hand accounts of the war years from:

  • Marielle Tsukamoto – As an educator (Elk Grove USD) and community activist, Marielle continues the legacy and work of her mother, Mary Tsukamoto, who was a driving force in the Smithsonian’s original exhibit: A More Perfect Union: Japanese-Americans and the US Constitution. Marielle shares her memories of both the camp experience (Jerome, Arkansas) and some of the realities faced by internees following their release from the camps.
  • Jack Dairiki – Born in Sacramento, Jack recounts his trip to Japan in 1941, being caught there, and surviving the bombing of Hiroshima.
  • Jim Tanimoto – I met Jim last spring during an annual Pilgrimage to Manzanar. Jim’s story is the first in our collection from a No-No boy, a term for resisters. No-No boys answered “No” to questions 27 and 28 on the Loyalty Oath they were required to take.

Constitution Day 2011 – a time to reflect on what it means to be an informed citizen and what’s worth fighting for.


One Comment

  1. Hi Gail, Although I am responding to a comment that you left on my blog post about the linkup with Christopher Herz, the New York author, I was interested to read this post and some of the previous ones. It is important to remember events like this one. In Australia, we remember Anzac Day in April and coming up in November, we have Remembrance Day.
    Thank you for the link that you provided for us to Harlem. Our students have heard of the Harlem Globetrotters but that is as far as their knowledge of this area goes. I love the sharing and learning that can be gained, when we are globally connected.
    As to your question on the IWB. It provided us with a big screen in which to view Christopher and a better audio session (due to the better quality speakers). As Christopher used his web cam to good effect, it felt like he was in the room with us. It also allowed us to have 50 plus students in the audience and that meant a wider audience could get involved. We did not use the interactive features of the whiteboard, but maybe that is something we could consider next time.
    Hope the new school year goes well for you.

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