Among this year's speakers were Ambassador Sasae of Japan, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton and others.
The keynote address was delivered by Ms. Jodie Bernstein. Ms. Bernstein was the Chair of the Commission on the Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians. She spoke of the journey to obtain redress for those Japanese Americans incarcerated during WWII. The text of her remarks can be found here.
Photos from this year's Freedom Walk were contributed by Bruce Hollywood. The gallery of the photos is available here.
Past Events of Interest
“Here we admit a wrong. Here we affirm our commitment as a nation to equal justice under the law.”
— President Ronald W. Reagan, upon signing the Civil Liberties Act of 1988
For the United States, the Second World War began when the Empire of Japan attacked American armed forces at Pearl Harbor in what was then the Territory of Hawaii on Sunday, December 7, 1941. A little more than two months later – in what was eventually described as acts born of wartime hysteria, racism, and weak political leadership - President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066. The Order resulted in the internment of 120,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry into 10 relocation camps scattered through more desolate regions of the western United States.
Most of those interned were American citizens. But despite these injustices, thousands of Japanese Americans voluntarily joined the U.S. armed services forces to help win the war in Europe and the war in the Pacific. More than four decades later, the United States Government – in the historic Civil Liberties Act of 1988 approved by Congress and the President -- formally apologized for the personal justice denied by the mass internment.
Soon thereafter, Japanese American veterans of the War led an effort to create a national memorial in the Nation’s Capital to honor the military and civilian patriotism of these individuals and the communities in which they struggled. An ultimate quest was to lift the unjust stigma of shame placed upon the backs of these loyal Americans. The National Japanese American Memorial was dedicated in Washington, DC on Federal land on November 9, 2000.
The Memorial honors the heroism and sacrifice of Japanese Americans who fought and died for their country. The Memorial tells the story of Japanese Americans who supported their nation on the home front. But the Memorial does not tell merely a Japanese American story. It tells an American story of patriotism, perseverance and posterity. It is a story about the rights of every American. It is a story of triumph over tragedy.
Throughout our presentation, we'll be mindful of the purpose of the Memorial and our mission. You'll have an opportunity to learn more about how the Memorial was conceived, designed and constructed. You’ll meet the people whose dedication and effort brought it into being, and hear some of the many stories of those Japanese American patriots to whom it is dedicated. But most importantly, you'll be provided the important opportunity to participate in the Foundation’s ongoing efforts to share our story…and your rights.