In a recent discussion with my cousin, Robin Hattori, we talked about the value of “being with your people.” She and I grew up together in St. Louis, Mo., and we both still live here. When we were teens, we found our people in JAYS (Japanese American Youths), where all of the kids in our youth group felt like family as we shared similar histories and experiences growing up in the Midwest.
Robin, her husband and her parents visited Arkansas last month as part of a pilgrimage to the Rohwer and Jerome internment camp sites. Both of Robin’s parents (and my father, her mother’s brother) were interned in Rohwer when they were children. It was my cousin’s first trip to see where our family lived for four years.
She remarked on how comfortable she felt with the other Japanese Americans on the pilgrimage and how easy it was to establish a rapport. “I felt like part of a community, even though I may not see those people ever again,” she said.
I had been to Rohwer more than a decade earlier when I traveled there with my parents and siblings. My cousin and I compared notes about our experiences. My father died about a year after our trip, and I am so grateful I had a chance to go to Arkansas with him.
Robin had a similar feeling of appreciation of hearing her mom and dad’s stories firsthand. “They were able to get in touch with that time of their life,” she said about their visit. “My parents are getting old. Once their generation is gone, no one will be left any more to tell their tale.”
We need to hear our parents’ stories, and, just as important, we need to continue to share them. That’s why the Pacific Citizen is so essential today and for generations to come.
The Pacific Citizen also helps readers “be with their people.” The stories in each issue help us connect to our fellow Japanese Americans.
Even those who are thousands of miles away still feel like part of our community.
As readers of the Pacific Citizen, we have a responsibility to be informed and share what we learn. We also have a responsibility to help support the publication in its efforts to continue onward as a vital historical resource for generations to come.
Please invest in the future of the paper and participate in the P.C.’s Spring Campaign at https://www.pacificcitizen.org/donations. Show that you want to continue to be with your people.
Jody Mitori, P.C. Editorial Board Member, MDC