[COMMUNITY] WWII Internees of Minidoka Camp Returns
- WWII Internees Visit Camp Monument in Idaho
From the Associated Press
HUNT, Idaho Tomi Okano was 6 years old in 1942 when she and her
family were forced by the federal government to leave their Oregon
home to live in a World War II detention camp for Japanese
More than 60 years later, she has one vivid memory of this place in
the southern Idaho desert.
"I remember the fence," Okano said Saturday as she walked past the
remnants of an entry checkpoint to the former 33,000-acre Minidoka
Relocation Center compound. "I remember thinking, 'If I could just
go over that fence and over those mountains, there would be the
ocean and I would be home.' "
Okano, of Seattle, was one of about 100 former internees and their
families who made a pilgrimage from Seattle and Portland, Ore., to
the Idaho camp now designated the Minidoka Internment National
The National Park Service hosted the visit to discuss its plans to
develop a 73-acre parcel set aside in 2001 by President Clinton to
be an educational exhibit focusing on civil rights and the wartime
experience of Japanese Americans.
Minidoka was one of 10 detention camps operated between 1942 and
1946 in the Western U.S. and Arkansas. The camps held thousands of
West Coast residents who had at least one-sixteenth Japanese
The forced removal of Japanese Americans was ordered by President
Franklin Roosevelt two months after Japan's Dec. 7, 1941, surprise
attack on Pearl Harbor.
Today, only a handful of original Minidoka structures remain.