Inspirations From Internment Camps

There were many struggles that Japanese-Americans faced after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Japanese-Americans living in America were forced out of their homes and into incarceration camps for 4 years. Families moved to America to start a new life and to take advantage of the different opportunities that America provided. But being taken away from the homes that they worked for is shameful and upsetting. However, children were still able to find hope in these hard times. Children in internment camps never lost their imagination or creativity as they used these skills to help them succeed in the future. 

Image from They Called Us Enemy By George Takei. Illustration by Harmony Becker

George Takei is known as Hikaru Sulu from Star Trek and he was offered this role to represent the Asian-Americans. Takei is a Japanese-American who lived in internment camps in California as a child with his family. In his comic book, They Called Us Enemy, he shares how he moved from their home in Los Angeles to live in horse stalls or small rooms in internment camps. The living conditions were inhumane and degrading for anyone, but the Takei family still made memorable memories and did all they could to help each other out. A few years after the concentration camps ended George went to the University of Los Angeles to study theater and become an actor.

Image from Story Corps “From Internment Camps to Disney, a Japanese American Artist Draws Strength Through His work.”

Willie Ito is an animator for Walt Disney Animation Studios.  He knew from a young age that he wanted to be an animator after watching Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. Ito is also a Japanese-American who lived in internment camps, when he was only eight years old, in Utah with his family. In internment camps, he would make drawings and flip books with the simple catalogs and pencils he had. Ito had a strong passion for illustration and through hard work, he was able to reach his dream.

Takei and Ito are successful Japanese-Americans who lived in internment camps in America and both of their stories are encouraging to people of all ages. They are successful in reaching their dreams which inspires younger generations to continue to work hard for something they are passionate about. Takei and Ito both lived through a rough time and continue to inspire teens or adults to persevere through tough times in life. Overall, George Takei and Willie Ito are people that suffered in poor conditions but stayed motivated by their dreams to succeed.

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