2012 January 2

Gordon Hirabayashi, Japanese-American Hero, Dies at 93


Gordon Hirabayashi, a Seattle resident, was convicted of violating the curfew imposed on Japanese-Americans as part of President Franklin Roosevelt’s order to allow the military to evacuate people from the West Coast on February 19, 1942 (the Japanese-Americans were not specifically mentioned by the president). The appeal of his conviction was the first Japanese-American case to reach the Supreme Court, Hirabayashi v. United States on June 21, 1943. The Court upheld the curfew order, and Hirabayashi was sent to an internment camp.

The evacuation and internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II is regarded as one of the worst violations of civil liberties in American history. The government finally atoned for the tragedy with the 1988 Civil Rights Act, passed on August 10, 1988, which provided for reparations of $20,000 for each surviving victim of the internment.

In 2012 President Barack Obama awarded posthumously the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Gordon Hirabayashi.

Watch Gordon Hirabayashi’s recollections: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8VNrUrEj7HU

Watch the official government propaganda film on the Japanese-American tragedy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ac19C-rfMp8

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