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Fontbonne Academy Hosts World War II Internee

Dr. David Sakura, who was an internee of the Minidoka Japanese Interment Camp, made a presentation at Fontbonne Academy last week.

’s Model United Nations’ Club hosted a presentation by Dr. David Sakura last week in Fontbonne Academy’s Library. Dr. Sakura was an internee of the Minidoka Japanese Interment Camp in Idaho. 

Dr. Sakura, whose wife Mary Ellen is an alumna of Fontbonne, gave a presentation entitled, “A Father’s Voice, and A Boy’s Remembrances.”  The images that were presented came largely from the Bancroft Collection from University of California, whose website Dr. Sakura had been looking at when he came across an image of himself, along with his two brothers, after they had traveled eight hours in terrifying conditions from the state of Washington to Idaho. 

The images he uncovered in the Bancroft Collection, combined with weekly letters that his father sent to their hometown newspaper in Eatonville, WA which he recovered in archives, combined with Dr. Sakura’s firsthand recollections of the events and conditions of the camp, created a riveting hour-long experience for the packed audience.

In the aftermath of Pearl Harbor, fear and distrust of Japan led the U.S. government to establish prison-like camps, such as Minidoka. Dr. Sakura, a third generation Japanese-American, and his family were forced to leave their homes and live in these camps.

Dr. Sakura spoke about his experiences of living in Minidoka and what it was like to grow up in a society where prejudice and discrimination led to the loss of freedom for thousands of innocent Americans.  

He spoke about the primitive conditions of the camp, and attending first and second grade there. He watched as many of the men, including his father and three uncles, left to serve in the US Army with the all Japanese-American 442 Regiment Combat Team in World War II. He reflected on saying the Pledge of Allegiance daily at school, and later commented on the lack of “liberty and justice” for the internees.

After the presentation, students asked very insightful questions.  Among them, Rheannon Swire ’13 asked, “Why, if the interment camp experience was so traumatic, would you want to share it with us?”  Dr. Sakura replied, “I want to tell you this story from the first person perspective. This is history and I am blessed to be one of one of the youngest survivors of the camp. It has been a personal journey for me to tell of these experiences, and I consider it a blessing.”

The above release was submitted by Fran Karoff, Fontbonne Academy.

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