WASHINGTON – Curators of an upcoming Smithsonian museum exhibition on the wartime internment of Japanese-Americans have put out a call for families to contribute artifacts for display. The National Museum of American History in Washington wants items that reveal everyday life inside the camps.
A curator said the exhibition aims to highlight the dangers of racial profiling, at a time when the issue is at the forefront of U.S. politics. Businessman Donald Trump is leading the race for the Republican nomination despite making derogatory remarks about Mexican immigrants and proposing a ban on Muslims from entering the United States over terrorism fears.
The exhibition will open in February 2017 to mark the 75th anniversary of the signing by President Franklin Roosevelt of an executive order that resulted in the forcible internment by the military of Japanese immigrants and U.S. citizens of Japanese descent during World War II.
The original Executive Order 9066, signed on Feb. 19, 1942, will be on display. The Exhibition will run through November 2017, according to curator Noriko Sanefuji.
“We’ll do our best to convey the message to visitors, history should not repeat itself,” Sanefuji said.
The museum is looking for people who own uniforms of the Army’s 100th Infantry Battalion, which was chiefly composed of Japanese-Americans who sought to prove their loyalty to the United States, she said.
The museum also plans to hold an event on Friday in Washington to raise awareness about the history of the incarceration, inviting Roger Shimomura, a Kansas-based artist who was interned in Idaho. Shimomura’s grandmother was also interned.
“Mr. Trump also felt that the incarceration of Japanese-Americans might have been the right decision at the time,” Shimomura, 76, said.
“Condemning an entire group of innocent people on the basis of a few exceptions is not the American way and ignores our constitutional rights.”.
Under the executive order following the attack on Pearl Harbor, more than 110,000 Japanese-Americans ended up living in 10 internment camps far from urban areas. The number of internees grew to 120,000 by the end of the war, and many of the internees lost their work and possessions.
In 1988, President Ronald Reagan apologized for the violation of human rights of the Japanese-Americans and the U.S. government paid compensation to victims.