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Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Wall


While it’s a low point that some would prefer to forget, the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II is a historical event that needs to be remembered so it isn’t repeated. The Japanese residents of Bainbridge Island, just west of Seattle, were among the first of the eventual 120,000 who were sent to detainment camps. The Japanese on Bainbridge had integrated well into the local community and their removal was especially heartfelt. Upon their return many found that their land and homes had been kept for them by their neighbors, unlike other Japanese, even those that were U.S. citizens, who had nothing left. On Saturday, the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Community dedicated a wall to memorialize the relocation. Constructed of cedar and stone, the wall has the names of all 276 residents who were sent away. 150 of them returned to island, a high percentage due in no small part to the community who kept their memories alive with newspaper articles of their lives at camp. The local paper and its publisher inspired the novel and film “Snow Falling on Cedars.” The Minidoka National Historic Site in Idaho commemorates one of the internment camps and the Bainbridge Island wall has been designated an official satellite of that site. The wall is inscribed with “Nidoto Nai Yoni.” Translation: “Let it not happen again.”

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