Families Forever Changed: The Japanese American Internment of World War II
Swartz, Morgan Kiino
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On December 7, 1941, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and changed forever the lives of Japanese living in the United States. The U.S. government forced thousands of Japanese to leave their homes in California, Oregon, and Washington and live in inhospitable lands completely isolated from the rest of American society. Their story is a story of families and communities. Families were ripped apart, reunited, broken down, and strengthened because of the stresses of internment and the constant challenges that they had to face. As the government cited "military necessity'' and shuttled the Japanese across the country, it destroyed the ethnic communities that were the backbone of their lives in the United States. The interdependent economic networks that many relied upon crumbled. The internment process, beginning with Pearl Harbor and ending with resettlement in American society, dramatically challenged and reshaped the patriarchal family structure that had dominated in early Japanese communities. The first generation immigrants, or Issei, found themselves uprooted and tom away from their previous positions of authority. Their American-born children, the Nisei, were shoved into roles of leadership before their parents were ready to relinquish power, intensifying resentment and conflict within communities and individual families.