Korematsu Day honors interned Americans
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Last Sunday was officially "Fred Korematsu Day" in California. So who was Fred Korematsu, why should he be honored with a special day and why should anyone in Sonoma Valley care?
The Japanese Navy made a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii from the air and sea on Dec. 7, 1941, causing tremendous damage, sinking ships and killing more than 3,000 Americans. The following day, at the request of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Congress declared war against Japan and, within a few days, dictatorships in Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, which had been over-running Europe, joined their Asian ally by declaring war against the United States, which responded in kind. Registration of "enemy aliens" from those three countries living in the United States was immediately required.
On Feb. 19, 1942, Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, which went farther than dealing with "enemy aliens" and authorized Gen. John L. DeWitt, commander on the West Coast, to round up not only alien Japanese, but also Nisei, who were American citizens of Japanese ancestry, and deliver them to "detention centers" in the name of "military necessity." In effect, they were also denied their right to challenge the order by writ of habeas corpus.