One of the darker chapters in American history is the internment of American citizens during WWII. This was directed at Japanese in particular in light of the attack on Pearl Harbor and the proximity of these citizens to sensitive coastal regions. Other internees included diplomats and their families and non citizen aliens. These internees were relocated to the interior of the U.S. away from major defense production areas where fear of sabotage was high.

    This internment of American citizens has been referred to by the ACLU as "the worst single wholesale violation of American citizens rights in our history". While many still argue that these internments were done out of military necessity, so were many other immoral acts perpetrated throughout history. Few can effectively argue that the internment was justified. In 1988 following years of demands for compensation for internees, Congress granted restitution. This served to publicly acknowledge the misdeeds of the U.S..

    First generation Japanese immigrants are referred to as issei. Second generation Japanese who were born in the U.S. and are American citizens by birth are called nisei. Some nisei were ultimately recruited by the armed forces and sent to Europe to fight as all-nisei units. Some units had very successful combat records and received many military honors. Senator Daniel Inouye of Hawaii was one such soldier.

    Collecting internment items is difficult. The field is very narrow, items hard to come by and often expensive when found. Some items include postcards and letters from internees, photographs, awards, insignia, cinderellas, posters and flyers. All good homefront collections have a few pieces of internment collectibles. Most extensive collections are not held in private hands but rather by museums and archives.

    Internment items and learning the history of these U.S. internments is important for other reasons. What was done to these Japanese Americans by the United States is not without comparison to what hitler did to German jews. Afterall, in both cases citizens were deprived the same rights as fellow citizens. They were isolated and their freedom was taken away. They suffered persecution by fellow countrymen. If one argues that the U.S. acted out of military necessity, an argument can be made that hitler acted out of necessity as well. It is not being suggested that orders of magnitude are comparable but rather, that deprivation of Freedom and Liberty can occur in ANY country and that open eyes and ears are one's best defense. Learning and understanding history is another tool to preventing reoccurrence of these acts.


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