Lawrence Downes: A story of war and remembrance

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Dr. Harry Abe has swallowed an ocean of pain. At first this is hard to detect, then impossible not to. On a recent Sunday afternoon at his immaculate Long Island townhouse, papered with photos of grandchildren, Abe, 91, was the picture of a gentle family doctor, comfortably retired.

Talk with him a while, though, and the decades fall away. An astounding story emerges. Pick a beginning: 1916, when he is born in Seattle to immigrant Japanese parents. Or 1939, when he graduates from Oregon State University and hopes to head straight to medical school. But schools in those days have strict quotas for the Japanese, and no room for Harry Abe. He bides his time, living with his family while studying for a master's degree and working in a grocery store.

Then comes Pearl Harbor. Tens of thousands of Japanese immigrants and their U.S.-born children are classified as "enemy aliens." In 1942, on the order of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, they are forced into prison camps. Harry's parents and siblings are sent to Minidoka, in Idaho. Harry volunteers for the Army....

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Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military

2 Comments
Posted August 19, 2008 at 8:21 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Jeffersonian wrote:

The apology closed a chapter, but the country remains as panic-prone as ever. Citizenship was hardly enough to protect Japanese-Americans after Pearl Harbor, and it did not keep thousands of American Muslims from being seized after Sept. 11.

Say what?  Pray, tell us more about these sweeps, Mr. D.

August 19, 10:03 pm | [comment link]
2. DonGander wrote:

Dr. Abe would easily gain anyone’s respect. He certainly has mine. I do wonder, however, if he knows that he is being used by the drive-by media for propaganda purposes?

” ...America’s toxic fear of supposed strangers.” Those are NOT Dr. Abe’s words. They belong to the author of the story - editorial comment.

Out of the whole world my ancestors came to THIS country instead of any other just because they would be welcomed here. Problems? Yes, lots, and Dr. Abe’s reminds me of some of the stories of my great-grandparents. But they came here to be free. Yes, you can even be free to be a biggot and America-hater here.

I doubt that Dr. Abe fought on two continents for “toxic fear of supposed strangers.”  Those words were put in his mouth by someone who does not have my respect.

Don

August 19, 10:39 pm | [comment link]
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