BAINBRIDGE ISLAND, Wash. – Sixth-graders at Bainbridge Island’s Sakai Intermediate school got a unique history lesson Wednesday, hearing from Japanese Americans who were sent to internment camps during World War II.
“We knew we were going to California, but I never heard of Manzanar,” said Nobi Sakai Omoto, who was 18 years old and about to graduate at Bainbridge Island High School when she was sent to camp 75 years ago.
“When I missed my graduation, I was of course upset and sad, because I looked forward to that,” she said.
The 6th grade classes at Sakai started this tradition is 2004. This year 30 guests who had some connection to the internment spoke to the six classes of 6th graders.
“We just want to capture it and make sure nothing like this happens again and just to better understand what happened,” said 6th grader Carson Powell. “To hear about the stories are kind of shocking. Like some of them, it really surprises you what happened to these people. I can’t believe that they had to go through this.”
The students remarked this is a lesson they couldn’t learn from a history book.
“I think it makes it more real, because then you get the actual experience about how they felt, because they are telling you,” said another classmate, Lily Taylor. “Then you know how hard it was for them and how much easier it is for you.”
Sakai Omoto’s father, Sonoji Sakai, is the namesake for the school. After the war, he sold land to the school district well-below the market-rate, according to school officials.
KING 5 covered the 75th anniversary of Executive Order 9066 extensively through Lori Matsukawa’s special: Prisoners in Their Own Land. She and host Ryan Takeo also talked about both of the families’ history in the camps in this episode of “The Sound Podcast”.