WHEREAS, On February 19, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, which authorized the United States military to forcibly remove and incarcerate more than 120,000 persons of Japanese ancestry from the West Coast, including 12,000 Japanese American residents of Washington State; and

WHEREAS, The first civilian evacuation order gave Japanese Americans from Bainbridge Island, Washington less than one week to leave behind homes, personal belongings, farms, businesses, friends, and family and report to detention centers like Camp Harmony on the grounds of the Washington State Fair in Puyallup, where hastily converted horse stables housed the evacuated families; and

WHEREAS, These detention centers were temporary quarters for the evacuees while the United States military department constructed 10 mass incarceration sites for Japanese Americans located in remote inland areas of the United States; and

WHEREAS, This drastic policy of removal and relocation allegedly aimed to prevent acts of espionage and sabotage by Japanese Americans who were deemed untrustworthy and disloyal to the United States; and

WHEREAS, On March 23, 1943, the War Department organized a segregated unit of Japanese Americans, many of whom reported for military duty from the concentration camps surrounded by barbed wire in which they and their families were detained; and

WHEREAS, More than 12,000 volunteers responded to questions about their loyalty and patriotism by amassing a battle record unparalleled in United States military history with a casualty rate of 314% and earning a collective 7 Presidential Unit Citations, 21 Medals of Honor, 29 Distinguished Service Crosses, 1 Distinguished Service Medal, 588 Silver Stars, more than 4,000 Bronze Stars, 22 Legion of Merit Medals, 145 Soldier’s Medals, 9,486 Purple Hearts, 16 decorations from France and Italy, and, in 2010, the Congressional Gold Medal; and

WHEREAS, Equally loyal and patriotic Japanese Americans fought to protect our constitutional rights and liberties through dissent, like University of Washington student and Auburn native Gordon Hirabayashi who was arrested, convicted, and imprisoned for defying the military curfew on select civilians and refusing to evacuate when ordered; and

WHEREAS, In 1982, the Congressional commission on wartime relocation and internment of civilians found “no military or security reason for the internment” of persons of Japanese ancestry, but determined the cause of the incarceration as “racial prejudice, war hysteria, and a failure of political leadership”; and

WHEREAS, Through this travesty of justice, Japanese Americans suffered immense economic loss of property and assets; experienced immeasurable physical and psychological harm as individuals and collectively as a community; and were deprived of their constitutional liberties without due process of law; and

WHEREAS, In 1979, Washington State Congressman Mike Lowry introduced H.R. 5977 to provide reparations and an apology to the Japanese American incarcerees, thus initiating a 10-year legislative quest that ended when President Ronald Reagan signed the Civil Liberties Act of 1988; and

WHEREAS, Throughout Washington State, the last remaining survivors of the European and Asian Pacific battlefields of World War II and of American incarceration camps live their golden years in quiet contrast to their extraordinary acts of conscience and valor while all of America continues to benefit from their heroic patriotism;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, That the Washington State Senate pause to acknowledge the 81st anniversary of the signing of Executive Order 9066; to recognize and remember Japanese American veterans, incarcerees, and civil rights activists from the State of Washington; and to reflect on, and honor, the lessons, blessings, and responsibilities of the phrase “. . .with liberty and justice for all”; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That copies of this resolution be immediately transmitted by the Secretary of the Senate to the Nisei Veterans Committee, Densho, the Japanese American Citizens League, the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Washington State, and the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience.