program for the 28th Annual Day of Remembrance, “20 Years After
Redress: Civil Liberties and War," centered on a reflection on
the landmark Civil Liberties Act of 1988, in the context of
today's wartime environment.
longtime NOC member, Gary Jio, was the emcee for the evening as he
was one of the many local community activists who fought for Redress
during the 1980's.
Kameya was also a NOC activist during that same period. Although
Carolyn had no family connections to Internment, she recalled
how her sensitivities to racism were formed during her
adolescence, a time when she was taunted for her mixed race
heritage. She also witnessed the great turbulence of the Vietnam
War and the struggle for civil rights which had a great impact
on her later involvement with the Redress movement.
Carolyn recounted the
difficult efforts to gather former internees for the Commission
on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians and how many
former internees "had not
stories with their own families, so the prospect of doing it
publicly before an official commission
and large audience was
daunting to say the least.
We encouraged and
listened, encouraged and listened. We set up house meetings so when
some brave souls began to speak of their experiences, it was easier
for others to follow suit. People rose to the challenge and
inspired us all."
Carolyn also put her experience in
working for Redress twenty years ago in the context of today. "It’s
a day (The Day of Remembrance) to remind everyone in this nation to
reject bigotry and intolerance that threaten and diminish us as a
Samina Faheem Sundas, of the American
Muslim Voice, eloquently spoke about how she cried on the day of the
attacks of 9-11 but was still looked on suspiciously by people
nearby. "I stood there crying for loss of life" she said, but she
"felt all alone and unwelcome in what I thought was my home."
Samina described how -- similar to
what happened after Pearl Harbor -- hundreds of Muslims were
detained and arrested immediately after 9-11 and how 86,000 Muslims
were registered under the "Special INS Registration" program. She
tried to help her community during this chaotic period. Samina
how she tried to answer questions
from a parent asking whether their debilitated son, who had
serious head trauma, had to register, or from a son whose father
was hospitalized with memory loss should as well. There was also a
question whether a patient who was in a coma for two years should register. In all cases, the answer was "yes."
Samina explained that "more than six
years post 9/11 we are still suffering from hate crimes against
Muslims. It is becoming acceptable to openly speak against Muslims
and their faith." This is clearly evident in the latest erroneous
assertions that Barack Obama is a Muslim, with the bigoted
implication that being a Muslim is a characteristic that is not
American and Islam is a religion that should be feared.
Samina concluded with a central
belief of NOC, "Let's pledge today that we will focus on what binds
us together rather than what we believe divides us. Let's learn
about each other, accept and embrace each other and cherish our
San Jose JACL,
a longtime participant of Day of Remembrance programs, were represented by Kenzo
Kimura and the Ogawa
Family, who led the candle-lighting
ceremony, with accompaniment by Dick Matsueda on shakuhachi.
Kenzo passionately spoke about JACL's
efforts to keep the lessons from the Redress movement alive. San
Jose JACL will host a commemoration of the Civil Liberties Act of
1988 in the Fall.
Other regular supporters of the Day
of Remembrance, Iman Tahir, of the South Bay Islamic Association,
and Congressman Mike Honda, spoke about why we must protect our civil
liberties for our children and for future generations.
Rev. Doug Norris, of the Wesley United Methodist Church,
participating in his first Day of Remembrance, gave the Aspiration
to open the program. Rev. Gerald Sakamoto, of the San Jose Buddhist
Church Betsuin and a past participant, gave the Benediction.
San Jose Taiko, a featured performer for the San Jose Day of Remembrance event, gave their usual
electrifying performance to close the program.
NOC would like to thank the all of
the people who made this year's program a success.