Tule Lake Pilgrimage

July 3-6, 2008



I had a chance to talk with a few of the young people, mainly college age kids they are all intelligent and articulate, and speak with great enthusiasm of the importance of educating others about what happened to 110,000 Japanese-Americans in 1942 there isn't a hint of anger in most of them, more a dynamo of positive spirit in putting forward this mission. The Nisei, and those Issei still around, still carry residual resentment, so there is a tinge of anger and great pain in what they share of their experiences. Still, even they seem more mellowed with the passage of time it's been 60 years plus since they returned home, or went to new communities to start over again. And time seems to have helped with healing the scars many shared positive experiences in the midst of some very tragic happenings because of the support that was there from their non-Japanese friends after the war. For the most part everyone succeeded extremely well in making something substantial of their lives, especially for their children, and later for their grandchildren, many of whom were there for this pilgrimage.

For the now grown children, part of the bridging of the gap was also a healing for them, as they listened to their parent's stories of experiences behind barbed wire, making whatever they'd heard and learned previously about their parent's experiences very real and personal a good thing, that...
The pilgrims for the weekend came from all over the country, though mainly from California, Washington, and Oregon - They also came from New Jersey, Tennessee, Arkansas, Colorado, Utah, and a host of other states. The common cause for each was either their personal experiences in camp as an internee, or the desire to bridge the gap with the generation of their parents and grandparents to make their personal history whole. The ones who came the farthest was a young Japanese couple from Tokyo, Japan who had no direct contact with Tule Lake or the internment, but who were interested in this part of US history...!

One important aspect of the pilgrimage was the sharing of stories, making oral histories a significant part of the experiences mainly it was a time for sharing stories with each other, sort of like what happens when family gets together. But, several of the younger generation worked at video and audio taping of interviews, especially with the 80 year old+ internees, as part of a formal oral history project of the Tule Lake organizing committee....it was interesting to see the kids with their high-tech video and recording equipment with light stands and reflectors, conducting interviews with some of the senior pilgrims...

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