First Prize, Poem, College

Miya Eberlein


Sophomore (2016-17 Academic School Year)


Growing up Japanese American,

I knew camp did not mean summer camp

I knew that freedom did not come free

That my ancestors fought so I could be

Far away from barbed wire fences

I do not need to pack all my things in one suitcase

I do not need to leave my home

With the orange trees in the backyard

That they once had to say goodbye to

In history books

The uprooting of my family tree

The day 9066 was posted

Is but a small sentence in the book

It is an afterthought

Not even an apology

My friends they do not know

They do not know enough

Of the hot, cracked clay grounds

That my great grandparents speak about

The sore summer days of missing Okasan

Yearning for life back home

Separated from the world


So if the books do not speak

I teach them myself

Their eyes grow wide in horror

Why have we never learned about this?

I tell them more

About the loyalty

As we banded together

Even when our freedom was taken

We fought for the freedom of the nation

That is what they need to know…


My name is Miya Eberlein and I am a rising junior at UCLA. I am studying molecular and cellular development biology, and I hope to one day become a dentist to help spread smiles to all. My favorite extracurricular activities include paddling for the UCLA Dragon Boat Team, as well as practicing taekwondo. I entered this contest because growing up as a Japanese American, I felt that the bravery of the Nisei soldiers during World War II was a topic that was rarely covered in any history course I took. I feel that their bravery and fortitude should be remembered and revered for generations to come.

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