On May 17 and 18, 1942 — on the authorization of President Franklin Roosevelt and the signing of Executive Order 9066 — more than 700 Japanese Americans were forcibly evacuated from Tacoma’s Union Station and sent to Pinedale Assembly Center near Fresno, Calif. Though a small fraction of the population returned to Tacoma, the city’s once-thriving Japantown never returned to its pre-war vitality.
Each year, Japanese American Days of Remembrance are held around the nation to commemorate the anniversary of this unjust and unconstitutional mass-incarceration. This year will mark Tacoma’s third Day of Remembrance in recent memory.
The Tacoma Japanese American history community is grateful to its co-host institution, the Washington State History Museum, as well as our sponsoring organizations: Puyallup Valley JACL, the Tacoma Historical Society, and the Children’s Museum of Tacoma.
On Thursday, May 17, the Washington State History Museum will host a series of events, running from 4 to 7 p.m., which commemorate those of our citizens of Japanese ancestry who were forced into internment camps during the Second World War.
Freelance writer Tamiko Nimura is organizing the event.“… with this event, I hope to honor the vibrancy of Tacoma’s historic Japanese American community and showcase the persistence and resilience of its cultural vitality today,” said Nimura.
The event is free and kid-friendly. Sponsoring organizations include the Puyallup Valley JACL, Seattle JACL, the Tacoma Historical Society, and the Children’s Museum of Tacoma.
- 4 p.m.: Welcome and opening remarks by Tamiko Nimura, event organizer
- 4:30 p.m.: Japanese folk song sing-along with Megumi Azekawa, music therapist
- 5:30 p.m.: Tacoma Fuji Taiko, resident group with the Tacoma Buddhist Temple
- 6 p.m.: Q&A with Professors Lisa Hoffman and Mary Heinemann of the Japanese Language School Oral History Project, UW-Tacoma
- 6:30 p.m.: Memory procession from the History Museum to Union Station, minute of silence for those departed
Ongoing through the afternoon:
Pop-up historic photo exhibit on “Tacoma’s Japantown: Then and Now” at the History Museum.
Origami crane display by three historically Japanese American Methodist congregations: Blaine Memorial Church in Seattle, Highland Park in Spokane, and the Whitney Memorial UMC (formerly of Tacoma/Puyallup).
Public craft activity in the museum lobby: creating a memorial sculpture with origami paper, luggage tags and bamboo.
At the Children’s Museum of Tacoma, through May 17, a craft activity will be set up in “Becka’s Studio” for people to fold an origami paper lantern or crane, which will be displayed at the History Museum on the Day of Remembrance.