Monday, March 24, 2014

Dr. Frank Kitamoto - thank you from the guides...

SJG • 3/19/14 - Camellia takayama
by aleks
thanks Jeanne P. for the idea and research assistance

Dr. Kitamoto was a terrific speaker. He spoke to us in November, 2012 for our continuing education series for the Garden docents. The title of his talk was: "Making a Difference: Putting Human Back into Human Rights—Lessons from the Past to Help Us Make Choices in the Present."  Dr. Kitamoto died on March 15.

Seattle Times has his obituary:

Dr. Frank Kitamoto, president of the Bainbridge
Island Japanese American Community, discussed
his experience as a World War II-era internee
on Monday at Woodward Middle School.
[…] Frank Kitamoto was 2½ years old in 1942 when he, his mother and three sisters were sent to the Manzanar War Relocation Center in California after President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066. His father had already been rounded up by the FBI for questioning; he joined the family later. 

The Japanese Americans on Bainbridge Island were the first group in Washington to be taken to the internment camps, Dr. Kitamoto said during an interview with Idaho Public Television in 2007. The Kitamoto family stayed in Manzanar for 11 months, then they were transferred to Minidoka War Relocation Center in Idaho. 

Dr. Kitamoto’s earliest memories were from the camps, so, he said, he didn’t know what he was missing then. Later, he realized how difficult it must have been for the adults. He remembered spit-wad fights with other children and getting trampled at the end of the Miss Minidoka contest. When he was 5, he stole cigarettes from his dad’s dresser and smoked the whole pack, he told the television interviewer. Afterward, he was sick for a week.

“But I did give up smoking when I was 5 years old,” he said. “I remember that.”[…]
The rest of the article is here.

This picture is from Bainbridge Island
Japanese American Community website
His hometown's paper, Bainbridge Review also has a story:
[…] They had six days to pack up their lives. At the time, Frank Kitamoto was 2 1/2, and along with his mother, Shigeko, and three sisters, Jane, 9 months old, Frances, 5, and Lilly, 7, were first sent to the Manzanar War Relocation Center in California. […]

In 1983, Kitamoto started an oral history project on the internment with Ron Nakata and John Sakai, and made repeated visits to classrooms across Washington state and beyond to talk about the history of Japanese Americans. […]
The rest of the article here.

In 2007 Dr. Kitamoto was interviewed by Idaho Public Television when he was re-visiting Minidoka camp (there is a yearly pilgrimage organized by and for former detainees):

Jim: It was interesting, we did a World War II documentary about World War II in Idaho and talking to some of the folks who were around back then, just regular folks who lived in Idaho, I asked them about the camps and I have to admit I was expecting this sort of sense of collective guilt that you hear from Caucasians in those days. Instead what I got was, Well, it's too bad but we didn't know what they were going to do. We didn't know what was in their hearts.

Frank: That's right. Yeah, I think when people are under the stress of fear for themselves a person becomes very self centered and worries more about themselves and how an action may affect another person and a lot of times when we become so fearful of losing our power or our identity or our safeness, it becomes important for us to be able to find a reason to defend that by doing something and I think in a case like that it becomes hard to identify that you may have done something wrong to a group a people that may not be justified so maybe somewhere along the line here we'll be able to help people realize that power is not really military or strength or the Patriot Act or home security. Really the authentic power is really how you care for each other and the more human you can be and the more soulful you are, the better this world will be because you know when you get right down to it that's the purpose in life, is caring for each other, not how you can influence someone or manipulate someone.
The rest of the interview transcript is here.

SJG • 3/19/14 - Camellia Takayama

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