It is with great pleasure that I present to you this dynamic historical program, "Return to the Valley."
History plays an important role in our understanding of the present. We can come to a sound insight of the past that will tell us much about the problems we now face by listening to what history has to say. Our youth need to reach into their own history by talking to their elders to gain an understanding of the achievements and tribulations that their family has experienced. Knowledge of the past will help our youth make amends to the problems and injustices in our society.
My personal history dates back to the Japanese American Internment of 1942. Over 120,000 people, including children and the elderly, were required to leave their homes in California and parts of Washington, Oregon and Arizona. Most people did not have time to store or sell their household goods at a fair price. Some people moved to other states, but the majority went to internment camps. They were only allowed to take few belongings with them, and many families lost virtually everything they owned except what they could carry. Internees spent many years in camp, behind barbed wire fences and with armed guards patrolling the camps. Entire families lived in cramped, one room quarters that were poorly constructed.
I spent my early childhood with my family in an internment camp in Colorado during World War II. We returned to California in 1953, becoming strawberry sharecroppers in Blossom Valley in San Jose. My family experienced ample hardships while they were in the internment camps and re-establishing their life after their release.
My family's experience during the internment taught me how we should not take our civil rights and civil liberties for granted. Although we live in a country that defines itself by its increasing diversity, democracy and civil liberties, we still have a long path to go in addressing the issues of civil rights.
Gaining insight on our past is just the first step of our duty as American citizens. I urge our youth to use this opportunity to celebrate their unique heritage. As individuals you all have something unique to bring to the table of public service and policy. Our youth need to be conscious of the various issues that are affecting our communities and participate in American government. We must educate them to voice their opinions and speak out to challenge the injustices in our communities especially in the civil rights arena.
I want to commend KTEH on producing this excellent program for the public. I urge our teachers to educate our children to learn about the importance of understanding their family history and to continue the long struggle for civil rights.