February 19, 2017, is the 75th anniversary of Executive Order 9066, which ordered the internment of over 120,000 Japanese Americans during World War II. It is also the day when Allegiance will be shown nationwide for the second time. Allegiance is the musical production which appeared on Broadway for a short time, was filmed and was shown in theatres around the country on December 13, 2016. Allegiance stars George Takei and Lea Salonga and depicts one Japanese American family’s journey from February 19, 1942, to the present. See the trailer here.
This movie is important because many people still bear the scars of the internment. I saw the movie in December, and it was a very difficult experience for me. It was hard to see dignified Issei (1st generation Japanese Americans) and their families be herded onto trains, race tracks, and barracks while they tried to show their loyalty to their new country by obeying this incredibly racist and unjustified policy. Second generation Japanese Americans (Nisei) were less accepting, probably as a result of being more Americanized. They were also almost all U.S. citizens, born and raised in this country.
The Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians found: “In sum, Executive Order 9066 was not justified by military necessity, and the decisions that followed from it – exclusion, detention, the ending of detention and the ending of exclusion—were not founded upon military considerations. The broad historical causes that shaped these decisions were race prejudice, war hysteria and a failure of political leadership. Widespread ignorance about Americans of Japanese descent contributed to a policy conceived in hate and executed in an atmosphere of fear and anger at Japan. A grave personal injustice was done to the American citizens and resident aliens of Japanese ancestry who, without individual review or any probative evidence against them, were excluded, removed and detained by the United States during World War II.”
The movie has received some criticism for some historical inaccuracies which you can read about here. But I believe it captures the fear, anger, and despair of the people who knew they were loyal Americans but were imprisoned for their ancestry alone.
This movie comes out at a pivotal time in our country. Unless you are Native American (Indian), you come from a family of immigrants. They may have come to this country on the Mayflower, or they may have come last week. They came for various reasons – seeking religious freedom, involuntarily as slaves, involuntarily as prisoners, seeking a better life, fleeing war, starvation, and genocide, or innumerable other reasons. But for those of us who are descended from immigrants, we have no right to deny to today’s immigrants and refugees the hope and promise that was given to our families.
There are Day of Remembrance and Never Again activities planned all around the country to honor the memory of those interned by Executive Order 9066.
Allegiance is showing in Lincoln at the Marcus Grand and in Omaha at the Village Point Cinema and Twin Creek Cinema. All showings are at 12:55 pm on Sunday, February 19, 2017. I could not find any other Nebraska showings, but you can check here. I encourage you to see the movie if you can.
Update on the Nebraska Legislature – Tuesday, February 14, 2017, is Day 29 of the session – still no permanent rules.