So while all these Japanese folks were being rounded up on the mainland, what about all the Japanese folks in Hawaii?
Well in 1941, Hawaiian Japanese folks made up about one third of the population or about 150,000 folks.
Most had come in via plantation labor in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
The military it seems were pretty embarrassed by what happened at Pearl Harbor and rumors and such floated around about so called fifth column help, or acts of sabotage and spying done by the locals.
Well it turns out there wasn't any fifth column or any kind of column, just some folks out fishing and stuff.
These rumors though helped fuel the anti-Japanese frenzy on the West Coast for they started to see Japanese submarines and airplanes all over the place.
See the one of my favorite movies 1941, or read about the Battle of Los Angeles here.
I swear if some of this stuff wasn't true it'd be pretty comical.
Well, I guess it wasn't so funny back then.
Apparently, the military folks here in Hawaii had cooler heads.
Here we too braced for invasion, martial law was declared soon after the attacks, barbed wire was everywhere and guards patrolled the beaches, and the usual suspects were rounded up.
The military though decided that most of the Japanese folks did not pose a significant threat to well, anything.
See those Japanese living on the West Coast were sort of new to the area.
Okay, not really, but when they came to the United States, they tended to keep to themselves, not really going out to mingle with the locals if you know what I mean.
On the other hand, Japanese folks in Hawaii, well, they were like everywhere!
They, I believe had already begun to put their stamp on the local culture.
That doesn't mean folks here weren't interned and relocated too.
About 1100-1500 Japanese Hawaiians were sent away, some held at a camp here on what's known as Sand Island and also a place called Honouliuli.
For the most part though, most of the Japanese population were seen as benign and most just continued about their business.
Hawai was sort of quick to adopt the Japanese, in fact some local customs here are Japanese in origin.
In other words, if you were Japanese during WWII, Hawaii was the place to be.
Okay, not really for there were all kinds of rationing and shortages and that's why we eat a lot of Spam:
Of course this is just the short version.
There's a whole bunch of drama about citizenship and loyalty and all that stuff that took place after the war ended.
Because of the racial tensions, some Japanese did not want to return for they actually felt safer in the camps!
Now I don't know about you, but that's pretty messed up.
So what's the point of visiting this obvious black eye in America's history?
Well for one thing, I could not believe this stuff happened in the so called modern era.
In the book Years of Infamy, when you read about the internal memos and declassified documents, it's quite amazing to see how certain officials reacted.
I mean this wasn't white hooded dudes with torches in the middle of the night, this was the United States Government!
These folks were held in camps for the better part of three years without ever being charged with a crime.
That's pretty fantastical right there.
I mean when you read it, it's pretty darn difficult to believe.
To be fair though, not everyone in government was acting crazy. Some folks knew what they were doing was unconstitutional, but hey! public opinion and all that rules.
It's a government for the people don't you know.
Well, most of the people.
Of course it was all extenuating circumstance.
Or was it?
By now, most of us are so far removed from that era that it's difficult to grasp exactly what went on.
As they say hindsight is 20/20 and it's easy to see the negative aspects of the decisions that were made.
I guess in the end, it's all about a lesson learned.
As great a country as America is, we can still make mistakes.