Still a bit between things at the shop last night, but realized that today, February 19, is the day President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066. Signed in 1942, the Order authorized the forced removal and incarceration of so-called enemy aliens from the West Coast Exclusion Zone. This Zone included western portions of Washington and Oregon, and all of California. Although not exclusive to, the order was primarily enforced on those of Japanese ancestry. 120,000 individuals in that category, two-thirds of whom were American citizens, were imprisoned, without trial, in guarded, barbed-wire fenced camps. I type that and re-read it, part of my head still can’t get around it.
And of course that wasn’t really where it started, but you have to choose somewhere as the beginning, and I didn’t print out the text of the order and I don’t know about setting it all and printing it anyway I’m not sure that’s really what this is about, not that I even know what This is yet, but I am realizing I don’t need to know. That’s part of it all, the letting things happen and seeing where it goes. Trust the process.
The Order sets the stage though, as without it there wouldn’t have been the camps in the first place. And without the camps there wouldn’t have been the loyalty questionnaire, and those who answered ‘No’ to questions 27 and 28 being sent to Tule Lake. The No-No Boys. It sounds like the name of a pop group.
I was fortunate enough to go on the Tule Lake Pilgrimage last year. It was an amazing experience, and I do want to share more about that, it’s been lingering on the “to post about” list. Anyway, yeah, that list never gets any shorter. However, since being on the Pilgrimage, events occurring at and about the camps have been much more on my radar. So this year I was much more aware of the Day of Remembrance. And (insert slight ironic twist) it’s the day after I became a homeowner in California. My own piece of the American Dream. My great-grandparents would not have been allowed.
Since being at Tule Lake the idea has been in the back of my mind to use the text of the two questions in some sort of project. Seemed apropos to start on that yesterday. Although the answers are perhaps more the story. The No. Only two letters, and yet…
So there I was with the wood type again, and pick it out in so many faces. The names change but the word stays the same. Not always though. Becomes on. noon. no on(e). And I started to fill up a galley and wait, I’ve done that. Is it becoming my “thing”, because I know it “works”? just going through the motions? Stop. Leave some space. Don’t be afraid of emptiness. Let it breathe. Maybe a comment on life there too. Oh needs a couple tweaks and sort out the ink color and paper, but yes. What were you afraid of?
How would you answer?
27. Are you willing to serve in the armed forces of the United States on combat duty, wherever ordered?
28. Will you swear unqualified allegiance to the United States of America and faithfully defend the United States from any and all attack by foreign or domestic forces, and forswear any form of allegiance to the Japanese Emperor or any other foreign government, power, or organization?
More about the Loyalty Questions.