By WILLIAM T. FUJIOKA, Chairman, JANM Board of Trustees
This year marks the 81st anniversary of the Day of Remembrance — a day for all of us to reflect on the injustice suffered by Japanese Americans during World War II.
For many Japanese Americans, Feb. 19 is not an abstract date in history. It is a somber day that represents many layers of loss for real people and communities. When President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 on Feb. 19, 1942, he launched the unjust imprisonment of Japanese Americans during World War II.
As JANM commemorates this anniversary, I remember my grandfather, Fred Jiro Fujioka. He was a proud owner of F&K Garage in Los Angeles’s Little Tokyo. It was the largest Oldsmobile dealership in the western U.S. prior to World War II. He sold cars and trucks to Japanese farmers, business owners, and families throughout Southern California. His business had a huge impact on the growth of farms and other businesses owned by Japanese immigrants in the 1920s and 1930s.
I think about my father, William Fujioka, who was a decorated war veteran with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team’s Cannon Company. I think about my mother, Linda, who was a long-time volunteer and docent at JANM. They never talked about everything their families lost because of their incarceration at the Heart Mountain concentration camp. Instead, they raised me and my brother with a strong sense of pride, honor, and commitment to improving the world through public service.
The most important thing JANM does is preserving and sharing our community’s history to ensure what happened to individuals of Japanese ancestry during World War II does not happen again to any other community. JANM is a place where people with diverse views, beliefs, and positions come together to talk about how lessons from our history can help shape solutions to the many social justice issues our nation faces today.
The museum continues to be a strong voice against hate, including anti-Asian hate, directed at all communities regardless of race, color, creed, religion, or sexual orientation now and into the future.