Bainbridge Island marks the 80th anniversary of Japanese American incarceration during WWII

Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial
The outdoor cedar “story wall” at Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial, 2013. Image: Joe Mabel / Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)
  • March 30 marks 80 years since the unjust incarceration of around 120,000 Japanese Americans during World War II, following the attack on Pearl Harbor.
  • The forced evacuation of people from their homes and into concentration camps on the West Coast was brought about by President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066 issued on Feb. 19, 1942.
  • In remembrance of the history, the community on Bainbridge Island, which is known to have been the first designated exclusion area, hosted a ceremony at the Japanese Exclusion Memorial.
  • Organizers of the event wished for this year’s anniversary to center around healing and acknowledgement of the island’s history.

Today marks 80 years since the unjust incarceration of around 120,000 Japanese Americans during World War II, following the attack on Pearl Harbor. 

The forced evacuation of people from their homes and into concentration camps on the country’s West Coast was brought about by President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066, issued on Feb. 19, 1942. 

Men, women and children of Japanese descent were labeled as threats to national security and isolated in fenced and guarded concentration camps for the duration of World War II.

In remembrance of this piece of history, the community on Bainbridge Island, which is known to have been the first designated exclusion area, hosted a ceremony today at the Bainbridge Island Japanese Exclusion Memorial.

Washington state leaders, including Gov. Jay Inslee, along with students, speakers and survivors gathered at the in-person event, which was also livestreamed on the memorial’s official Facebook page.  

Eighty years ago, over 200 Japanese Americans, whose names were read aloud during the event, residing on Bainbridge Island were forced out to the Eagledale Ferry Dock and brought to California. 

Organizers of the event wished for this year’s anniversary to center around healing and acknowledgement of the island’s history.

“What’s required with healing is the community or individuals being willing to listen to the stories of what happened. And by being willing to listen to the stories and being interested, it creates empathy by that community, and helps that healing process,” the president of the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Community (BIJAC), Carol Reitz, told King 5. 

“Who knows who’s going to be around five years from now and the next major milestone?” she added. “So, we’re really appreciative of those survivors who are still here and thankful the stories are not lost.”

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