A number of events are taking place this month to remember 80 years of healing on Bainbridge Island regarding the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.
The island is commemorating the 80th anniversary with activities, exhibits, lectures and screenings. On March 30, a remembrance ceremony will be hosted at the BI Japanese American Exclusion Memorial at 11 a.m. where survivors are scheduled to speak, along with Gov. Jay Inslee.
On March 30, 1942, with only six days’ notice, 272 Japanese American residents were forced to leave BI. They were the first subjected to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066. Approximately 120,000 Japanese Americans were forced into wartime concentration camps in California, Idaho and elsewhere.
The Bainbridge Review newspaper and many residents stood in opposition to the orders, writing opinion pieces and showing support for their neighbors by caring for land, businesses and belongings until families were released. Of the 227 residents removed from the island about 150 returned at the end of the war.
Along the West Coast, that experience was rare. Many more Japanese Americans returned to find their homes, land and businesses sold or appropriated by others.
“While this was a dark time in the island’s history, there are still many moments to be shared and to celebrate,” said Carol Reitz, president of the BI Japanese American Community. “This is a special place where community members continue to help one another find healing.”
Today, a half dozen survivors live on Bainbridge or nearby.
On March 30, concentration camp survivors, community leaders and Inslee will be part of the 80th anniversary ceremony at the memorial, 4195 Eagle Harbor Drive NE. The cedar-carved memorial wall is dedicated to the 227 BI residents forced from their homes to go to the internment camps. Parking is limited and reserved for survivors, those with limited mobility and speakers. The event will be streamed on the BIJAEM Facebook page.
Through June 12 there will be a series of lectures and presentations at the BI Museum of Art.
Opening March 11 is “Americans Incarcerated: A Family’s Story of Social Injustice.” It runs through June 12.
That exhibition is inspired by Jan Hopkins of Everett and her desire to learn more about her cultural identity. Her parents met at Camp Harmony, a temporary processing facility at the Puyallup Fairgrounds. Her story is in narrative form, and her figurative sculptures and Chris Hopkins’ two-dimensional oil paintings, ink blot prints and charcoal drawings and visual elements to the exhibits. It portrays fear, racism, alienation and loss, along with the resilience and patriotism many chose to embrace.
Also, artists’ books are on display in an exhibit called “Boundless” on the same topic, through June 22. It includes a supporting exhibition called “Troubling: Artists’ books that enlighten and disrupt old ways of being and seeing.”
Numerous selections on the same issue from BIMA’s permanent art collection are also being shown.
Admission is free. The exhibitions are open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The museum is located at 550 Winslow Way E. For details go to www.biartmusem.org
There also will be a five-week film series that includes pre- and post-movie discussions with experts and those impacted by the incarcerations. Go to www.biartmuseum.org for more.
“Betrayed: Surviving an American Concentration Camp” will be shown at the Bainbridge Island Museum of Arts auditorium March 12 at 2 p.m. A presentation and panel will follow.
The movie shares of the story of Japanese Americans being forced into concentration camps during World War II. Filmmakers talked to 40 camp survivors and descendants and the movie explores the relavance of the story today.
March 15 “American Pastime” will be shown at 2 and 7 p.m. It shows how baseball was a diversion for the Japanese Americans in a Utah prison camp.
Masks and proof of vaccination are required. Go to www.bima.org for more.