After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Portland native Kennie Namba was ordered to a Japanese-American internment camp in California. He opened the discussion. Namba said the perception of Japanese-Americans "changed considerably" after the attack on Pearl Harbor. He was forced into an internment camp where, from behind barbed wire, he watched sentries with machine guns pacing atop a platform ready to shoot prisoners who attempted to escape.
Despite being classified by the U.S. government as an "enemy alien," Namba succeeded in volunteering for the U.S. Army and subsequently serving in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, which remains today the most decorated unit in American history. During the war, Namba earned six medals, including a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart.
Despite his service and the conclusion of the war, Namba remained subject to discrimination in his home country. Peering solemnly over his bifocals, Namba remembered going grocery shopping with his wife, reaching the register only to be told by the owner that the store did not serve Japanese. "That really got me," Namba said. "What in the hell did we fight the war for?"
Namba said he remains perplexed by the discrimination he encounters even today. He finds great importance in sharing his life story with others in Oregon and around the nation, especially with other Japanese-Americans.
"We are as good as anyone else in our community," Namba said, "and I want Japanese-Americans to think that way and feel that way." [Link]
DNSI direct link 0 comments Email post: