Smithsonian Hosts Annual Day of Remembrance Program

“Memory and the Nation” Program Will Feature a Panel Discussion
February 13, 2024
News Release
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Black and white photograph of people standing in front of train.

Arcadia, California. Persons of Japanese ancestry arrive at the Santa Anita Assembly center from San Pedro, California. Evacuees lived at this center located at the former Santa Anita racetrack before being moved inland to relocation centers, April 5, 1942.

National Archives and Records Administration.

The 82nd anniversary of President Franklin D. Roosevelt signing Executive Order 9066, this Presidents Day, Feb. 19, will be commemorated with a panel discussion at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. The order granted the U.S. Army the authority to remove civilians from military zones established in Washington, Oregon and California during World War II, resulting in the forced removal and wrongful incarceration of more than 125,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry. Forced to abandon their jobs, homes and lives, these individuals were relocated to 10 concentration camps in remote regions of the country.

Organized by the museum in alignment with the Smithsonian’s “Reckoning with Our Racial Past” initiative, this event will begin at 1 p.m. in the Warner Bros. Theater and will feature a panel discussion with William A. Harris, the director of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum; artist and biologist Perrin Ireland, Roosevelt’s great granddaughter; and Madeline Y. Hsu, professor of history and director of the Center for Global Migration Studies at the University of Maryland. Moderated by David Inoue, the executive director of the Japanese American Citizens League, the discussion resonates with the Smithsonian’s goal “to create a hopeful future for all people using history and reconciliation to contextualize and transform our understandings and responses to race and racism.” Information and registration details are on Eventbrite.

The Japanese American community observes Executive Order 9066 annually with a Day of Remembrance (DOR) event, reflecting on the lasting impact of the incarceration on individuals, families and communities. DOR serves as a reminder to prevent future transgressions of civil rights, emphasizing the fragility of civil liberties during crises and the importance of safeguarding the rights and freedoms of all.

“The museum’s annual Day of Remembrance program, and similar commemorative programs, are critical to elevating the awareness of wrongdoing and harm in U.S. history,” said Anthea M. Hartig, the museum’s Elizabeth MacMillan Director. “As the nation’s flagship history museum, we remain deeply committed to documenting, preserving and presenting history as well as the powerful experiences and meaningful contributions of communities.”

The museum’s collections include the Japanese American Nisei Congressional Gold Medal, which honors the Japanese American veterans of the 100th Battalion, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and the Military Intelligence Service Specialists serving in WWII. It has also mounted several exhibitions and special programs in addition to the annual DOR event to educate the public about the incarceration camps, their impact and legacy on the Japanese American community and the stories of soldiers who served in the U.S. military.

The 2024 DOR program is supported by the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum and the Roosevelt Institute, the Japanese American Citizens League (national and Washington, D.C., chapter), Patti Hirahara, Nori Uyematsu and the C.V. Starr Endowment for Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Studies, administered by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center.

“We are honored to partner again with National Museum of American History on the annual DOR program,” said Yao-Fen You, acting director of Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center. “We are equally dedicated to ensuring that the experience of Japanese Americans during WWII is recognized not only as part of Asian American history, but also as an integral, if painful, moment in our nation’s history.”

Support of the museum’s efforts to document and share the history of the Japanese American experience is also made possible by its Japanese American History Endowment. Leadership support for the endowment and the museum’s activities was provided by SF Gassho Trust, Terasaki Family Foundation, Advanced Fresh Concepts, Hawai‘i Air Cargo Inc., Ronald Yoshino, Patti Hirahara and Terry K. Takeda, Mary Hirahara, Tom Hoshiyama and Dr. Himeo Tsumori.

Through incomparable collections, rigorous research and dynamic public outreach, the National Museum of American History seeks to empower people to create a more just and compassionate future by examining, preserving and sharing the complexity of our past. The museum, located on Constitution Avenue N.W., between 12th and 14th streets, is open daily except Dec. 25, between 10 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Admission is free. The doors of the museum are always open online and the virtual museum continues to expand its offerings, including online exhibitions, PK–12 educational materials and programs. The public can follow the museum on social media on Instagram and Facebook. For more information, go to https://americanhistory.si.edu. For Smithsonian information, the public may call (202) 633-1000.

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SI-62-2024

Media only:
Valeska Hilbig, American History Museum
202-309-2151
hilbigv@si.edu

Rick H. Lee, Asian Pacific American Center
202-633-2654
leerh@si.edu 

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