Prisoners in Their Own Country

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During the second World War, the US considered Japanese-Americans enemies of the state, and they were widely thought to all be spies.

During the second World War, the US considered Japanese-Americans enemies of the state, and they were widely thought to all be spies. The Japanese-Americans were rounded up and forced into “Internment Camps”. To learn more about this we went to the History Colorado Museum in downtown Denver, and viewed their extensive exhibit. In the exhibit, “Amache”, we were given a view into the life of these people in the internment camps.

The name “camp” was “Kind of a euphemism, in a way,” tour guide B. Erin Cole explained to us. The camps were really more like military bases. There were 10 camps throughout  the US west, in states such as California, Nevada, Arizona, Wyoming, and Arkansas, although the Amache-Granada Camp was located in our very own Colorado, southeast of Denver.

The camp was open and running from 1942 to 1945. ⅔ of all Japanese in the camps were American citizens. They were in very uncomfortable circumstances, so to cope with the situation, the Japanese within the camp tried to imitate their former homes and schools. The Japanese-Americans were forced to hurriedly pack a maximum of two suitcases before leaving. This included their clothing as well as any personal items such as pictures, toys, and anything else they may have wanted to tote with them.

Originally, the youth of this relocation center were not permitted to attend school, as the Americans of the time viewed the action as aiding the enemy. However, their hearts softened as they realized that, whether or not their parents were spies, the children were, by nature, innocent. Soon, the children in the internment camp were allowed a kindergarten, elementary school, middle school, and high school. College, however was still restricted.

The Amache internment camp was shut down in 1945, and in the coming years was mostly demolished. When Ronald Reagan was elected president, he gave the newly freed Japanese a large sum of reparation money. $20,000 and an official government note of apology, to be exact. However, many who were affected by the creation and implementation of these camps refused to accept the money, as they believed that doing so would “let the government off the hook”, so to speak.  The Colorado History museum is open 7 days a week, and offers many different exhibits.