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The Power of Irei

A series of articles related to the Irei: The National Monument for the World War II Japanese American Incarceration, a three-part installation listing the names of more than 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry imprisoned in 75 U.S. detention camps. This series will honor those individuals that are listed by interviewing people personally connected to the incarceration and offer insights into the impact this project has made on their lives.

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Through the Fire: Rediscovering Poston

There’s a familiar adage that when Nisei get together, one of the first questions asked is “What camp were you in?” I suppose it’s almost like asking where you grew up, yet it definitely holds more meaning.

For example, there’s a strong proprietary nature to individual camps. When I went to Heart Mountain in 1994 for the first of dozens of trips to Wyoming, it was assumed my parents were held there, and I had to reluctantly confess they weren’t. Not to be targeted as an imposter, I was quick to respond that my aunt and uncle were there —  just to give me some credibility — and my cousin Steven was born there. It was a connection I used when attending many Heart Mountain reunions and pilgrimages (thankfully, sometimes even with my cousins).

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