WASHINGTON — Members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus released the following statements Wednesday commemorating the courage and legacy of Fred Korematsu:
Rep. Judy Chu (D-Pasadena), CAPAC chair: “Jan. 30 marks a very important day in our nation’s history. In memorializing Fred Korematsu, we acknowledge the courage he demonstrated in standing up against unconscionable policies and recognize him as a civil rights champion, not only for Asian Americans, but for all Americans. Fred Korematsu’s Supreme Court case stands, to this day, as a reminder of why we must always remain vigilant in protecting the sacred rights of every citizen.”
Rep. Mike Honda (D-San Jose), CAPAC chair emeritus: “Fred Korematsu was a beacon for justice, even as his country deemed him a fugitive. Yet, this beacon shines more brightly today, than ever before. Fred was among the Americans of Japanese heritage ordered to report to World War II internment camps in 1942. He defied that order, because he believed that his liberty and the rights of his family and community had been violated by the forced internment order, given without evidence, specific charges, or a trial.
“His entire life, Fred lived by an unshakable belief of doing that which is right. We must build on Fred’s courage and continue the fight to ensure that all Americans, all humans, have a right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness — only in doing so will we achieve our more perfect union.”
Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii): “Last February, a class of Hawaii students sent letters to Gov. Abercrombie calling for state recognition of Fred Korematsu Day. Thanks to their efforts, today is Hawaii’s first official celebration of Korematsu’s courage in the face of discrimination. Korematsu fought for his basic civil rights at a time when his Japanese American ethnicity made the U.S. government question his loyalty.
“I’m proud to have known Fred and his family, and am encouraged to see his pursuit for justice continues to inspire new generations of leaders. I hope people in Hawaii will attend one of the various events commemorating Korematsu’s legacy.”
Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-Hawaii): “I continue to find inspiration in the example of Fred Korematsu. While it is easy today to think of him as a symbol, we cannot forget that he was also a man who stood strong against injustice; he showed uncommon personal strength and was an outstanding American. Mr. Korematsu continues to illustrate both the dangers we face as a nation when we succumb to our fears, and the power of a single committed individual to remind us of our duty to all Americans.
“His story demonstrates that we must be willing to be judged by how we treat the least powerful among us, those without a voice, and whose interests differ from those of the majority.”
Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Sacramento): “Fred Korematsu was a true American patriot whose story embodies the finest values and aspirations of our country. During one of the darkest periods of our history, Fred Korematsu’s uncommon courage and unwavering conviction to fighting for justice taught us the value of never giving up. Today, as California observes Fred Korematsu Day, we honor his legacy and go forward with a renewed commitment to justice, equality, and the courage to speak the truth.”
Rep. Mark Takano (D-Riverside): “As a Japanese-American whose immediate family was affected by the Japanese imprisonment during World War II, it is with great pride that I commemorate the third annual Fred Korematsu Day. Fred’s commitment towards justice and freedom during one of America’s dark periods is a prime example of courage, which resonates deeply with the Japanese American community. Let us never forget Fred’s bold actions and continue to fight for equality and civil rights for all.”
In 2010, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed AB1775, creating Fred Korematsu Day as a permanent day of special significance, when schools around the state are encouraged to teach Korematsu’s story. Last year, Gov. Neil Abercrombie declared Jan. 30, 2013 as Fred Korematsu Day in Hawaii. Earlier this month, Gov. Gary Herbert declared Jan. 30, 2013 as Fred Korematsu Day in Utah, the state where Korematsu was interned.