Japanese-American WWII internment experience detailed at new program

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As part of the Greenwich Reads Together program, Greenwich resident Catherine Ladnier will explore the experience of Japanese American Mills College students who corresponded from internment camps with Mills College President Aurelia Henry Reinhardt during World War II on Tuesday, April 30.

Despite their imprisonment far from home, the Mills students strove to make the best of the hand they were dealt while looking forward to a “future day of radiant peace.” Ms. Reinhardt, the first female PhD graduate from Yale University, and her staff defied the prejudice and hysteria of the time to support their Nisei students. Nisei, or second generation, refers to sons and daughters of Japanese immigrants born and educated in the U.S.

Ms. Ladnier is a Mills College graduate who uses original letters to recount the stories of the “greatest generation.” Following the program at the Greenwich Historical Society, a group of panelists will recount their personal experiences and recollections on the internment of Japanese American citizens, reflecting on the injustice of uprooting 100,000 men, women and children from their homes in California, Washington and Oregon to imprison them in isolated camps.

Participants will include Nancy Katagiri Beck, a Sansei (third generation) whose parents were at Minidoka Camp, and her husband Vernon, President of the Japan Society of Fairfield County, Margret Mukai whose mother was at Mills College and established a library at the Tanforan Assembly Center before being sent to Topaz Camp, Lorraine Leiko Miyahara, from West Hartford, who, beginning at age 13, endured three years of internment before fulfilling her destiny as an accomplished artist and author and Lou DiGiusto, a film and television producer and director living in Darien, who has produced documentaries for PBS and documentaries about Medal of Honor recipients and military heroes.

This event is a unique opportunity to learn firsthand about what historians describe as a little known, misunderstood and neglected event in U.S. history that still resonates when we address human rights in the context of current international conflicts.

For more information, visit greenwichreadstogether.org. To learn more about Ms. Ladnier’s work, visit deareva.org.

The Future Day of Radiant Peace will be held Tuesday, April 30, 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the Greenwich Historical Society, Vanderbilt Education Center, 39 Strickland Road.

Admission is free but reservations are strongly suggested. Call 203-869-6899, ext. 10 greenwichhistory.org.

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  • Archie

    Here again we read half-truths! The reader is not told of the tens of thousands of German Americans and Italian Americans were also relocated, interned and deported during WWII.

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