By Jeff Burns
Recently, on a summer trip to Montana and Wyoming, my wife and I visited the Heart Mountain Japanese Relocation Center historic site. Located near Cody Wyoming, Heart Mountain was home to about 14,000 Japanese-Americans from the West Coast (and one Caucasian woman who refused to leave her Japanese husband) from 1942 to 1945. Because of Executive Order 9066 which essentially deemed all Japanese-Americans security risks following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and authorized their relocation to 10 internment camps in some of the most desolate and isolated parts of the country. Families were forced to sell or give away their farms, stores, and homes. They were allowed to pack a single suitcase each, loaded on buses and trains and moved to camps like Heart Mountain, where they were to live in hastily built barracks, each family allotted a single small room. There was no privacy or freedom anywhere, and they were constantly surrounded by barbed wire and armed guards.
|Government propaganda photo of life in camp|