Haiku My Heart: Remembering The Search for Belonging in America: Homeless Once More in Japan ~ We Offer Our Love to the Japanese People
Keiko Haiku Begun in 1915 and shared in groups before and after the internment of Japanese Americans, was free style, did not involve the counting of syllables did not need to talk about scenery and often used direct statement. It was especially popular during the period of Japanese American Internment.
Children at the Weill Public School in San Francisco in 1942 saying the Pledge of Allegiance together just before the Internment of Japanese Americans.
Violet Kazue Matsuda de Cristoforo's is the best known of the haiku poets of the Japanese-American internment camps. Her Poetic Reflections of the Tule Lake Internment Camp, 1944, was published after 1984. She also collected and translated the concentration camp haiku in her book There is Always Tomorrow: An Anthology of Japanese American Concentration Camp Kaiko Haiku (1996). Only 15 of Matsuda de Cristoforo's haiku from the camps survived.
She was a major advocate for the plight of Japanese Americans who were held in internment camps during the war. The work of Cristoforo and other activists ultimately led the United States government to make reparations and issue an official apology to the 120,000 Japanese Americans who were interned during World War II.
Here are some lovely examples of her poems:
she likens the people gathering. to "new shoots" from a pine trees, giving an image of hope during the desperate times.
in the evening
my children are growing"
she matter of factly tells about endurance: the insects endure while her children grow up.
as it was
on my wedding day"
the moon brings back poignant memories of her own wedding.
all keiko haiku are written by ~Violet Kazue Matsuda Cristoforo
Dec 1, 1945
(This is a letter from Tetsuzo Hirasaki, a young boy in the internment camp who is writing to a friend of his outside of the camp.)
(Full Text Below)
November 16, 1942
Dear Miss Breed,
Guess who? Yup it's ole unreliable again, none other than yours truly, Tetsuzo. Gosh the wind's been blowing all night and all morning. Kinda threatening to blow the roofs down. Dust is all over the place. Gives everything a coating of fine dust.
The food has been all right except for quantity...The medical situation here is pitiful. For that matter in all three camps. The main and the only hospital is at Camp I 15 miles away. Here in Camp III there is one young doctor with not too much experience and one student doctor working in an emergency clinic. They are supposed to take care of approximately 5000 people!!!! and they (the Big shots) wonder why we squawk about inadequate medical attention.
No I haven't hiked to the river yet. I'd better do it soon cause there is going to be a fence around this camp!!!!!! 5 strands of barbed wire!!!!!!!!!! They say it's to keep the people out. . . . It's also to keep out cattle. Where in the cattle countries do they use 5 strands of barbed wire??
If they don't watch out there's going to be trouble. What do they think we are, fools?? At Santa Anita at the time of the riot the armored cars parked outside of the main gates, pointed the heavy machine guns inside and then the army had the gall to tell us that the purpose of that was to keep the white folks from coming in to mob the Japs. Same thing with the guards on the watch towers. They had their machineguns pointed at us to protect us from the outsiders, hah, hah, hah, [I'm] laughing yet.
I am sending you a few things in appreciation for what you have done for me as well as for my sister and all the rest.... Your name plate I made from mesquite as are also the lapel pins. However the dark pin is made from a pine knot from Santa Anita. The rest are all Poston Products.
I've got to close now so that I can make the outgoing mail today.
Very truly yours,
P.S. Have a nice Thanksgiving dinner. TH
P.S. Do you think you could send me some Welch's peanut brittle?
"Most of the 110,000 persons removed for reasons of 'national security' were school-age children, infants and young adults not yet of voting age."
- "Years of Infamy", Michi Weglyn
Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, which permitted the military to circumvent the constitutional safeguards of American citizens in the name of national defense.
The order set into motion the exclusion from certain areas, and the evacuation and mass incarceration of 120,000 persons of Japanese ancestry living on the West Coast, most of whom were U.S. citizens or legal permanent resident aliens.
These Japanese Americans, half of whom were children, were incarcerated for up to 4 years, without due process of law or any factual basis, in bleak, remote camps surrounded by barbed wire and armed guards.
They were forced to evacuate their homes and leave their jobs; in some cases family members were separated and put into different camps. President Roosevelt himself called the 10 facilities "concentration camps."
Some Japanese Americans died in the camps due to inadequate medical care and the emotional stresses they encountered. Several were killed by military guards posted for allegedly resisting orders.
At the time, Executive Order 9066 was justified as a "military necessity" to protect against domestic espionage and sabotage. However, it was later documented that "our government had in its possession proof that not one Japanese American, citizen or not, had engaged in espionage, not one had committed any act of sabotage." (Michi Weglyn, 1976).
Rather, the causes for this unprecedented action in American history, according to the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians, "were motivated largely by racial prejudice, wartime hysteria, and a failure of political leadership."
Almost 50 years later, through the efforts of leaders and advocates of the Japanese American community, Congress passed the Civil Liberties Act of 1988. Popularly known as the Japanese American Redress Bill, this act acknowledged that "a grave injustice was done" and mandated Congress to pay each victim of internment $20,000 in reparations.
The reparations were sent with a signed apology from the President of the United States on behalf of the American people. The period for reparations ended in August of 1998.
Despite this redress, the mental and physical health impacts of the trauma of the internment experience continue to affect tens of thousands of Japanese Americans. Health studies have shown a 2 times greater incidence of heart disease and premature death among former internees, compared to non-interned Japanese Americans.
All information above is directly quoted
Seattle Post-Intelligencer "Bainbridge Island, Wash. March 30, 1942: Evacuation Day" [photo from Executive Order 9066: The Internment of 110,000 Japanese Americans. By Maisie and Richard Conrat. Copyright © 1972 California Historical Society]
"Imagine that one day you received notice that you and your whole family must be ready to move within 48 hours. You could take only the possessions you could carry and no one would tell you when you would be permitted to return home. Sound like a bad dream? This happened to over 100,000 United States citizens and legal residents during World War II." ~ Martha Daly
Relocation, as described by poet and historian Violet Kazu de Cristoforo in her book May Sky~ There is Always Tomorrow: “The internment of Japanese Americans living on the West Coast involved a process by which they were registered, numbered, tagged with shipping labels, and placed aboard buses, trains or trucks for shipment, under armed guard, to temporary location euphemistically called ‘Assembly Centers’” (51).
Note From Noelle ~
When my mother was growing up, she had a best friend in grade school, Grace Takemura, aged 7 in 1942. I have a school photo of them together ~ one of those photos where the children all form a queue , each child holding the waist of the child in front of them. She was a lovely little girl in a yellow- sashed dress with a silk bow in her hair and sweet straight bangs across her tiny forehead. She had a winning smile. My mother told me that one day, Grace simply disappeared with her whole family. Her house was boarded up, and no one ever saw her again. My grandmother never explained it to my mother and my mother’s teacher said nothing to the class. It was a terrible mystery, as if someone had died and no one cared.
I have shown you a brief review of some very tragic Japanese -American History, some of which I connect to personally. History, however, is still being made. Once again, the People of Japan have had to leave their homes behind quickly, taking only what they could carry but for a different, more real and more urgent reason-- the desire to survive, live on, thrive and see a future for themselves and for their children. We, as Americans, can help our brothers and sisters overseas. We are no longer limited by fear, prejudice or isolationism. We are now opened and expanded by the spirit of compassion, generosity and love for our fellow human beings who are undergoing so much suffering and loss. You have a choice. You can do nothing, or you can open yourself up to the highest good and do something. Even the smallest contribution makes a difference in the life of someone who has lost everything ~ family, home, possessions and hope. You have the power and the opportunity to transform past history, regardless of whether or not it is taking place on American Soil. Be a part of that change!
For More Wonderful Haiku My Heart Please Go To Recuerda Mi Corazon. Rebecca also supports ShelterBox and Haiku My Heart is her Vision. Thank you.
1,574 ShelterBoxes and 10,000 of our kit's winter hats, scarves and gloves committed to #Japan already. http://bit.ly/fC3MuA
Mission To Help Bring AID and Comfort To Japan:
The Aquatic Angels is a fundraising team that has formed online in an effort to help the wonderful and deserving people of Japan who need our mercy, compassion and care. We are giving you the opportunity to Join Us in Offering the Japanese People, who have faced the disaster of both Earthquake and Tsunami ~Shelter, Comfort, Warmth and a Chance at Human Dignity in the Face of True Disaster. If you would like to help our team, Aquatic Angels,~ simply Sponsor us by clicking on any one of the colored links in the narrative above or the team name link in this paragraph or any of the “other colored links, which will lead you to our team page where you may offer whatever gift of Love your heart leads you to give. In addition, there is a wonderful image of a Japanese doll taken by my teammate Rebecca Brooks at the bottom of my blog page. It says “ShelterBoxUSA” and Aquatic Angels Team. You may click on her as well to reach the Aquatic Angels’ team page. We are trying to reach a $2,000 goal and we are nearly there. If we reach it, we may raise it to $3,000. The cost of sending one ShelterBox is $1,000 USD. Our money has already gone to sending various boxes and we want to keep contributing. Please open your hearts and give whatever you can to help our Japanese Brothers and Sisters. Lift up your hands to Bless the World and Reach Toward Japan in Love and Peace.
~Noelle Renee Aquatic Angels Team Captain
One More Opportunity For Love
Here is something wonderful you can do immediately that will add to any donation you might make. You can send a message of Hope to the People of Japan, showing your support and concern for them. Just go to the following link for Toyota who is sending these messages of hope and support to the people of Japan from all over the world. It is a lovely website. Just click below and follow instructions: