Wherever I Go, I Will Always Be a Loyal American: Seattle's Japanese American Schoolchildren During World War II
By Yoon K. Pak.
On a summer afternoon in 1942, Japanese-American students in Seattle said goodbye to their friends and boarded buses for the relocation center at Puyallup, WA. Some gave their pets to white classmates; to their homeroom teacher, Ella Evanson, they left the legacy of their departure in the form of letters.
These letters, poignant and revealing, are at the center of Wherever I Go, I Will Always be a Loyal American, Yoon Pak's fascinating study of how one community responded to the internment of its Japanese-American students during World War II. Expressing ideas of loyalty, nationality, citizenship, and the threat of violence, the children's compositions give voice to how Seattle's school and students coped with the contradiction between the school's teaching of democratic ideals and the enforced evacuation.
Drawing on recent interviews with the letter writers, now in their 60s, and a wealth of historical documents, Pak also explores the paradox of Japanese Americans' response to the internment: As proof of their loyalty to America, many families left their homes with little resistance, strangely showing their belief in the land of tolerance by acquiescing to oppression.
Vivid and chilling, Wherever I Go evinces the cruelty of the Japanese American experience during WWII through the eyes of the schoolchildren who suffered it.
Paper: 224 pp.