Today is the Day of Remembrance for Japanese Americans Interned During WWII
On February 19, 1942, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 granting the War Department broad powers to create military exclusion areas. Although the order did not identify any particular group, in practice it was used almost exclusively to intern Americans of Japanese descent.
Although there were no reliable reports that Japanese-Americans on the United States West Coast presented a subversive threat, on March 2, 1942 the military declared California, Oregon and Washington State strategic areas from which Americans of Japanese decent were to be excluded.
More than 110,000 Japanese-Americans (64% of whom were American-born citizens) were required to abandon their homes and jobs and to live in 10 relocation camps.
The United States Supreme Court finally ruled that continued detention without cause was unconstitutional, and the military relocation order was rescinded in December 1944.
Japanese Americans near trains during Relocation. Circa 1942.
Baggage check during Japanese Relocation. Circa 1942.
Exclusion order posted at First and Front Streets in San Francisco directing removal of persons of Japanese ancestry from the first section of the city to be affected by evacuation. Evacuees will be housed in War Relocation Authority centers for the duration., ca. 07/1942.
Photograph of Dust Storm at Manzanar War Relocation Authority Center, 07/03/1942.
-from the FDR Library
The Monuments Men
Last week we were privileged to host two special advance screenings of The Monuments Men, one especially for the staff of the National Archives. Thanks to the generosity of Sony Pictures, Columbia Pictures, and Robert Edsel, author of The Monuments Men upon which the film is based for making this possible. The film will open in theaters around the country on February 7th.
In our East Rotunda Gallery, through the 19th of February, our featured document is an Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg (ERR) album that records artwork looted by the Nazis during the Second World War – one of a series of photo albums created for Adolph Hitler’s benefit to document the Nazis’ systematic looting of cultural treasures and to serve as a pick list for his planned museum in Linz after the war. The Army’s Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives program recruited the group known as the Monuments Men (although there were also Monuments Women), and they used these albums to return treasures to their rightful owners. The volume on display is one of several recently discovered albums donated to the National Archives by Robert Edsel, the president of the Monuments Men Foundation for the Preservation of Art. The newly discovered albums supplement the 40 already in the custody of the National Archives.
Read the full post on the AOTUS blog.
Today in history, January 14, 1943, Franklin D. Roosevelt leaves for the Casablanca Conference with Winston Churchill and becomes the first President to leave the U.S. during wartime.
Photo: Franklin D. Roosevelt reviews the troops during his trip to Morocco for the Casablanca Conference. 1/21/43.
-from the FDR Library
Ford in the Navy
Gerald Ford left his law practice in Grand Rapids in early 1942 to join the U.S. Navy as an ensign.
Ford’s first assignment after orientation at the Naval Academy in Annapolis was as a physical fitness instructor at a pre-flight school in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. In spring 1943 he began service on the light aircraft carrier USS MONTEREY. He had a dual assignment as athletic director and gunnery division officer, later becoming assistant navigator.
The MONTEREY took part in most of the major operations in the South Pacific, including the battle of the Philippines. Ford’s closest call with death occurred during a vicious typhoon in the Philippine Sea in December 1944. He came within inches of being swept overboard while the storm raged. The ship, which was severely damaged by the storm and the resulting fire, had to be taken out of service. Ford spent the remainder of the war ashore and was discharged as a lieutenant commander in February 1946.
Ford credited his wartime experiences for converting him from an isolationist into an ardent internationalist. “The U.S., I was convinced, could no longer stick its head in the sand like an ostrich,” he reflected in his memoirs, but rather needed to help Western Europe rebuild after the conflict. This position would help launch his political career.
Pictured: Upon his return to Grand Rapids following overseas duty, Lt. Commander Gerald Ford, Jr., shows his parents, Dorothy Gardner Ford and Gerald R. Ford, Sr., a map of the Pacific Theater, indicating the voyages of the aircraft carrier USS MONTEREY on January 2, 1946.
-from the Ford Library
Yesterday, December 7, 1941, a date which will live in infamy — the United States was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Did you know “infamy” was not in President Roosevelt’s initial message to Congress after the attack on Pearl Harbor? See FDR’s handwritten edits from the FDR Library.
On the Great American Smokeout—
“Did President Eisenhower smoke in the White House?”
This “Ask an Archivist” question from the Eisenhower Presidential Library comes from New York.
President Eisenhower gave up smoking in 1949 by his own force of will. He would not take up residence in the White House until 1953.
Eisenhower’s strategy for “kicking the habit” is revealed in a 1951 letter to a personal friend.
“Actually, I think the whole thing is far more psychological than it is physical – if you can succeed in throwing out of your mind any feeling of self-pity or privation or hardship, I think that you will be amazed how quickly you accustom yourself to a new regime. In my own case, I adopted the habit of feeling just a bit sorry for people who had this fault and so I attained a slight feeling of superiority. My ability to sneer, internally, I nursed to the utmost.”
Photo: General Eisenhower at Camp Kilauea, Hawaii. U.S. Army. 5/17/46.
Veterans Day Spotlight: George Bush
George Bush graduated from high school on his 18th birthday, June 12, 1942, with World War II raging on two fronts. That same day, although he had been accepted at Yale University, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy as a seaman second class.
Bush served as a Naval Aviator in World War II, flying Avenger torpedo bombers in the Pacific. He was the youngest Navy pilot in World War II to earn his wings at that time.
Bush was shot down Sept. 2, 1944 during a bombing mission over a Japanese radio station at Chi Chi Jima in the Bonin Islands; Bush’s crew didn’t survive, but he parachuted to safety and was later rescued by the submarine USS Finback. For his service in World War II Bush received the Distinguished Flying Cross, three Air Medals and the Presidential Unit Citation awarded to his carrier the USS San Jacinto.
Photos: U.S. Navy Pilot George Bush in the cockpit of an Avenger, 1942-1945; In Navy Uniform, 1942; Navy Pilot George Bush in VT-51 Avenger, 1944.
On this Veterans Day weekend, and everyday, thank you to all our nation’s veterans!
"During World War II, of course, I ate my share of SPAM along with millions of other soldiers. I’ll even confess to a few unkind remarks about it — uttered during the strain of battle, you understand."
-Eisenhower’s letter to the President of the Hormel Foods Board regarding SPAM
In 1966, Eisenhower wrote to H.H. “Tim” Corey (President and later Chairman of the Board of Hormel Foods) at the request of a mutual friend to recognize the 75th anniversary of the company. The tongue-in-cheek letter recounts Eisenhower’s remembrances of Spam during WWII.
PHOTO CAPTION: This unsigned file copy of General Dwight D. Eisenhower’s letter to H.H. Corey was retained by his staff to document what he wrote.
-From the Eisenhower Library