NEWS From:

Congressman Mike Honda

15th District - CALIFORNIA


For Immediate Release                                                 Contact: Jay Staunton 202.225.3327

March 4, 2004                                                         


Honda’s “Day of Remembrance” Gets Unanimous Support

House Passes Resolution 404-0, Recognizes Wrongs From WWII


Washington, DC – Legislation authored by US Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA), Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, today received unanimous congressional approval, clearing the way for a national “Day of Remembrance” to recognize the wrongful internment of members of America’s Japanese, German, and Italian communities during World War II.


“By admitting that the government wrongfully treated its own citizens and legal residents as potential enemies during World War II, the US Congress has again affirmed our Nation’s devotion to the principles of fairness and equal protection,” stated Rep. Honda, himself a third-generation Japanese American who was interned along with his family under the country’s wartime policy of “alien-enemy” incarceration.  “We must always be vigilant to protect our country – particularly in these tense times as we wage a war against terrorism – while preserving our commitment to the democratic standards and civil liberties laid out in the Constitution.”


Today the US House of Representatives voted 404-0 to pass H.Res. 56, Rep. Honda’s “Day of Remembrance” resolution supporting the goals of the Japanese American, German American, and Italian American communities in establishing February 19 as an annual day to increase awareness of the events surrounding the restriction, exclusion, and internment of people in these ethnic groups during World War II. 


On February 19, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the infamous Executive Order 9066, a World War II directive authorizing the incarceration of American citizens – including 120,000 Japanese Americans – based on nothing more than their ancestry.  Executive Order 9066 sanctioned a wide range of civil liberties violations and invoked a period of disregard for constitutional rights. 


“My own family, due solely to our Japanese ancestry, endured several years of confinement in an internment camp during the War,” Honda said.  “At a time when inflamed passions from our current conflict with Iraq and the war against terrorism may prompt similar discrimination against targeted ethnic groups, we must remember the lessons from this shameful chapter of U.S. history.”


The government interned 10,905 Germans and 3,278 Italians pursuant to EO 9066, which also authorized the relocation of 10,000 Italian American away from coastal zones.


“Particularly now, as certain ethnic minorities face heightened scrutiny due to their race or heritage, our nation must remember what happened to the so-called ‘enemy-aliens’ during World War II,” noted Lawrence Distasi, Project Director for Una Storia Segreta and President of the Italian American Historical Association.  “So many Americans still don’t know what happened to the Japanese, German, and Italian communities, and it is important for a nation to know its history.”


“This is an historic moment, and members of the German American community are grateful for the overdue recognition of the injustices wrought by Executive Order 9066,” stated Major Arthur Jacobs (USAF, Retired), a former internee who has written extensively about the experience.  “Wrongful acts of the past are difficult to address, and recognizing the affected communities is a noble act.”


According to Rep. Honda, the primary value of the Day of Remembrance will be instructional, serving as a learning tool to instill the lessons from the WWII interment experience. 


“There will be healing for those who were incarcerated, as well as for those indirectly victimized by the misdeeds of our government,” Honda said.  “When we talk about the Day of Remembrance, communities will get to reflect upon their own experience and project into the future to ensure such events do not happen again.”