Order 9066: Chapter One

Order 9066: Chapter One

Sun, 07/15/2018 - 9:00pm - 10:00pm

Pictured:San Bruno, California. Barracks for family living quarters.


Credit: American Public Media

On February 19, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, just months after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor.

Some 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry were forced from their homes on the West Coast and sent to one of ten "relocation" camps, where they were imprisoned behind barbed wire for the length of the war. Two-thirds of them were American citizens. Order 9066, a three-part series, airs Sundays, July 15-29, 2018 at 9 p.m. on AM 1370.

Order 9066 chronicles the history of this incarceration through vivid, first-person accounts of those who lived through it. With archival audio, historical context, and deeply personal narratives, the series offers audiences a nuanced and memorable account of how this shocking violation of American democracy came to pass, and its legacy in the present.

This moving series is hosted by Sab Shimono and Pat Suzuki, veteran actors and stage performers who were both incarcerated at the Amache camp in Colorado. The series covers the racist atmosphere of the time, the camps' makeshift living quarters and the extraordinary ways people adapted; the fierce patriotism many Japanese Americans continued to feel and the ways they were divided against each other as they were forced to answer questions of loyalty; the movement for redress that eventually led to a formal apology from the US government, and much more.

Order 9066 is produced as a collaboration with the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History. 

Order 9066: Chapter One airs Sunday, July 15 at 9 p.m.  The first episode introduces audiences to the atmosphere on the West Coast leading up to Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, and its impact on Japanese Americans. It describes FBI roundups of Japanese American community leaders and President Franklin D. Roosevelt's issuing of Order 9066, which led to the incarceration of 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry – most of them US citizens. Listeners will hear about the process of leaving home for prison camp, and the arrival at makeshift assembly centers—many of them former race tracks and fairgrounds, with many people forced to live in converted livestock barns. Japanese Americans were then sent to prison camps in remote parts of Arkansas and western states. Listeners will hear how incarcerated people adapted to the harsh conditions and made the best of their situation by organizing schools, sports teams, art groups and newspapers.

Order 9066: Chapter Two airs Sunday, July 22 at 9 p.m.  From the beginning, there was resistance to incarceration. Many Japanese Americans in the camps fought for their rights as citizens. The opposition grew over time. The War Relocation Authority tried to extract loyalty pledges from those incarcerated and enlist for military service. The United States needed millions of men and women to serve in WWII. To meet that need, the US extended the draft to include Japanese American citizens held in the prison camps. This chapter chronicles the brave service of thousands of Japanese Americans, including the men of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, which became one of the most decorated military units in the European Theater.

Order 9066: Chapter Three airs Sunday, July 29 at 9 p.m.  After the Allies won WWII, the prison camps were shut down. This final chapter describes the process of leaving camp, and how many former prisoners found themselves unwelcome in their home communities. This chapter features stories of people who flourished in post-war America, and those whose lives were destroyed by Order 9066. It also explores the issues of whether families talk about the experience over generations – or choose silence. Listeners will also hear about the long struggle by Japanese Americans to secure redress for the hardship and losses produced by incarceration, and how the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 granted wartime survivors a public apology, individual reparations, and a public education fund. As camp museums and visitor centers are built, and pilgrimages taken, the enduring legacy of the incarceration is considered.