|I learned of the 2008 Tule Lake Pilgrimage when I attended a lecture in May on WWII experiences of Japanese South Americans by a professor from the University of Washington, whose name I forget, on the Eugene Day of Remembrance celebration. While my family and I were sent to Amache in Colorado and not to Tule Lake, I figured a pilgrimage to any WWII concentration camp would be close enough to make it interesting and worth my attending.
My initial impression was of how many people with black hair and familiar faces like mine there were hahaha
! I'd not seen this phenomenon in a very long time, probably since Granny and I went to Japan in '61 with our college friends from the Methodist student center at Cal, or the day I participated in the San Francisco Japan Town Cherry Blossom Festival, being one of several dozen men wearing a head band and loin cloth and zori helping to carry a huge ceremonial sake casket from City Hall to Little Tokyo Paul was pretty young at the time
.I got pretty plastered from drinking all that sake during the parade, which was liberally ladled out..!
Well, not so many with black hair at the pilgrimage, really, because many of them were like me with graying hair to totally white, but the faces were altogether familiar... AND, there were a large number of blond, light brown, and red haired people, some with blue and hazel eyes, especially among the younger set, the results of mixed-race families. There were more mixed couples and individuals of mixed-race backgrounds than I'd anticipated....Among these, there were couples and individuals who were obviously the result of mixed-race parents like me and Granny, and some who were like Casey/Venice/Xander/Teiya who were quarter-Japanese who you couldn't tell were mixed well, some you might think maybe there was some kind of mix, but you'd be hard put to put your finger on what mix it was...
|One woman, probably in her mid-40s, was there with her Nisei mother, an internee at Tule Lake, who was without any vestiges of her Japanese heritage, being round-eyed, blond and blue eyed I would guess that her father was mixed himself, and she was quarter-so, or more-so...
The highlights from the weekend were the intergenerational discussion groups and the memorial service at the actual site of Tule Lake Concentration Camp....In each of the discussion groups a number of former internees were placed with the off-springs of internees, the sansei (3rd generation) and yonsei (4th generation) kids, the grandchildren of internees - it was interesting to note the appetite of the younger generations for anything about the camp experience... In the intergenerational discussion group our facilitator set the tone for the discussion by saying that it wasn't really a discussion, but a session where we listened to the stories of the internees we were there to hear the stories of those who'd been in the camps, and not to ask questions or pursue issues with any individual, this to avoid some potentially delicate matter of choices and decisions made at the time just mainly to listen....so, the 6 of us internees in turn talked about our experiences from camp, especially any particularly memorable stories well, I pulled a Jiichan, or should I say Gr/ma Ann...? - and got very emotional and choked up over a couple of thoughts I shared, mainly about family this was a major and common theme for most of the internees.
Of the internees, I was the only man in our group mostly the women were in their 80s, so they were in their early teens when they went to Tule Lake....anyway, it was both interesting and poignant hearing the stories, including my own everyone seemed moved by this sharing, especially the younger "kids" who said as much when they talked of what they were taking away with them...