In 1942, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 which laid the groundwork for the wrongful internment of countless Japanese-American citizens. Among those were the parishioners of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Seattle, a historically Japanese-American parish, who like the rest, were taken from their homes and placed in internment camps. Their stories are breathtaking. Their courage and resilience truly inspiring. I feel strongly, especially now, in these days when such similar approaches are again rising, when we once again lean toward the demonization of a whole race of people based on the actions of a few, that we should not forget the lessons of that decision, and also the courage and witness of those who had to endure it. Our hope with this series is to let those that lived it, and know it deeply, share it with you and all those who will see. I want to give special thanks to all those who agreed to be interviewed, to the Rev. Edmund Harris, Rector of St. Peter’s, Josh Hornbeck, Communications Director for the Diocese, and Diocesan Graphic Artist Greg Hester for their incredible dedication and work on this series.
Below is my introduction to our upcoming series of interviews with the current parishioners of St. Peter, Seattle who survived the internment camps and this tragic chapter of American history.
You’ll also find the first installment in our series of interviews with parishioners from St. Peter, Seattle. Henry and Jan Kumasaka share their experiences as children in the internment camps. More in the series will follow over the course of the next few months.