Prisons and Patriots
Japanese American Wartime Citizenship, Civil Disobedience, and Historical Memory
Publication Year: 2012
Prisons and Patriots provides a detailed account of forty-one Nisei (second-generation Japanese Americans), known as the Tucsonians, who were imprisoned for resisting the draft during WWII. Cherstin Lyon parallels their courage as resisters with that of civil rights hero Gordon Hirabayashi, well known for his legal battle against curfew and internment, who also resisted the draft. These dual stories highlight the intrinsic relationship between the rights and the obligations of citizenship, particularly salient in times of war.
Lyon considers how wartime civil disobedience has been remembered through history—how soldiers have been celebrated for their valor while resisters have been demonized as unpatriotic. Using archival research and interviews, she presents a complex picture of loyalty and conflict among first-generation Issei and Nisei. Lyon contends that the success of the redress movement has made room for a narrative that neither reduces the wartime confinement to a source of shame nor proffers an uncritical account of heroic individuals.
Published by: Temple University Press
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I AM INDEBTED to those who have infl uenced this project, commented on previous drafts, and given advice and feedback on my research through formal and informal conversations. Frank Abe, Jo Arlow, Denise Bates, Jane Beckwith, Kathren Brown, Frank Chin, Frank Emi, Art Hansen, Lily Havey, William Hohri, Takashi Hoshizaki, Reeve...
A Note on Terminology
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THE JAPANESE AMERICAN EXPERIENCE during World War II had a wide range of constitutional and legal repercussions, in part because the treatment of Japanese Americans was shrouded in euphemism. The words used to describe federal policies minimized the real impact these policies had on people and created...
Introduction: “A Footstep in the Sand of Time”
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LATE ONE EVENING, early in May 2002, I sat in a hotel room with a colleague, historical archaeologist Nicole Branton, after a very long day of traveling and conducting interviews. Together, we read from the wartime diary that Joe Norikane had so generously lent to us. Norikane stood defiantly against the government’s attempts...
1. Lessons in Citizenship
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WHEN JOE NORIKANE was in third grade, his family moved from Yuba City to Walnut Grove, California. Before the move, Norikane had been one of only four Asian children in his school, but he never felt out of place and was never aware that his ancestry could differentiate him from the other kids. He...
2. Nisei Wartime Citizenship
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ON A SATURDAY MORNING in California only a few months after Japan had bombed Pearl Harbor, a young Nisei boy heard a knock at his door. When he opened the door, he found a police officer standing on the porch. The offi cer could sense the boy’s fear and began joking around to put him at ease. The child’s father joined them. They were both relieved that the policeman had not...
3. Loyalty and Resistance
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THE TELETYPE MESSAGE that set off a fl urry of activity in Topaz on January 28, 1943, came from Secretary of War Henry Stimson, who announced that the War Department had created a combat unit exclusively for the Nisei. Nisei volunteers could enlist for military service during a loyalty registration program...
4. Gordon Hirabayashi in the Tucson Federal Prison Camp
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WHEN GORDON HIRABAYASHI was sentenced after losing his initial court case in October 1942, he knew that he might have to serve prison time for his decision to refuse the government’s exclusion order, but he did not want to spend any more time inside an institution like the King County Jail. He had spent months confined in this short-term facility waiting for his trial...
5. The Obligations of Citizenship
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ON JANUARY 20, 1944, Secretary of War Henry Stimson announced that the Selective Service had restored Nisei eligibility for the draft. Stimson declared that the draft gave Nisei the chance to restore their citizenship and to repair their public image as loyal Americans. The government had demonstrated its faith in Nisei, Stimson said, and now it was time for Nisei to demonstrate...
6. Prison and Punishment
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WHEN U.S. DEPUTY MARSHALL Alf G. Gunn drove his car into Topaz on May 16, 1944, he was surprised by the living conditions in this isolated camp in the middle of the Utah desert. Deputy Marshall Gunn had come to arrest Ken Yoshida for refusing to appear for his preinduction physical exam and failing to appear for military induction. Dust filled the air, making it difficult...
7. Reunions, Redress, and Reconciliation
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IN 1947, President Harry S. Truman asked an independent review board to investigate the possibility of pardoning draft resisters. The board was directed by former Supreme Court Justice Owen J. Roberts. They reviewed 15,805 cases and determined that during World War II, approximately ten thousand individuals had committed what they called “willful” and criminal violations of Selective Service regulations. They recommended that these resisters not be...
Conclusion: The Changing Nature of Citizenship
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WHAT DO GORDON HIRABAYASHI’S and the Tucsonians’ stories tell us about the changing nature of citizenship, civil disobedience, and historical memory? The aim of this book is not only to tell the stories of Hirabayashi and the Tucsonians but also to place their stories in historic and theoretical context. Making sense of their experiences brings together literature...
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Page Count: 239
Publication Year: 2012
Series Title: Asian American History and Culture (AAHC)