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The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History will open “Righting a Wrong: Japanese Americans and World War II,” a yearlong exhibition centered on the original Executive Order 9066 document on loan from the National Archives, that shaped the lives of Japanese Americans during the war and beyond. The display will be on view in the Albert H. Small Documents Gallery Feb. 17, 2017, through Feb. 19, 2018.
Visitors will be able to further explore this history through personal objects such as the Medal of Honor awarded to Private First Class Joe M. Nishimoto of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, objects collected from incarcerated families that depict life in the camps and many historical images.
“It is through the personal artifacts and photographs on view that our visitors will be able to understand the individual stories and experiences of Japanese Americans during this time period,” said John Gray, director of the museum. “We are grateful to the former detainees and their descendants for sharing these objects with the nation to illuminate this complex history.”
“Righting a Wrong: Japanese Americans and World War II” has been made possible through a donation by the Terasaki Family Foundation, as well as the Japanese American Citizens League and AARP.
Feb. 19 marks the 75th anniversary of Executive Order 9066, a document that President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed in 1942, two months after Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor. The order resulted in the imprisonment of 75,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry and 45,000 Japanese immigrants who were prohibited by law from becoming naturalized American citizens. They were housed in 10 large, barbed wire-enclosed incarceration camps and dozens of other installations scattered west of the Mississippi, far from their homes from March 1942 to March 1946.
Some 45 years later, the U.S. Congress formally recognized that the rights of the Japanese American community had been violated and President Ronald Reagan signed HR 442, known as the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, which provided an apology and restitution to the living Japanese Americans who were incarcerated during World War II.
To complement the exhibition, the museum will host special programming Feb. 19, also known as the Day of Remembrance, including film clips produced by high school students who worked on a Digital Storytelling Project and a panel discussion with the students and former detainees led by author and filmmaker Karen Ishizuka. Visitors will also see an objects-out-of-storage display. A book signing will follow.
For additional information about the Japanese American camps and the museum’s collection, the public may visit http://s.si.edu/JapaneseCampsWWII.
Through incomparable collections, rigorous research and dynamic public outreach, the National Museum of American History explores the infinite richness and complexity of American history. The museum helps people understand the past in order to make sense of the present and shape a more humane future. It is currently renovating its west exhibition wing, developing galleries on business, democracy and culture. Museum information is available at http://americanhistory.si.edu. The museum is located on Constitution Avenue N.W., between 12th and 14th Streets and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (closed Dec. 25). Admission is free.
The National Archives is an independent federal agency that serves American democracy by safeguarding and preserving the records of the government, so people can discover, use and learn from this documentary heritage. The agency supports democracy, promotes civic education and facilitates historical understanding of our national experience. The National Archives carries out its mission through a nationwide network of archives, records centers, Presidential Libraries and online.
The National Archives holds hundreds of thousands of records that document Japanese American internment, including personal records of those detained, films and photographs of life in the camps, arrest and internment records, and compensation and redress files.
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