‘Train of Tears' remembered

Internment train event marks community reconciliation efforts

For Yuri (Kawachi) Hasegawa, Saturday’s memorial event at the site of the May 13, 1942, Japanese community internment evacuation train embarkation marked a symbolic return to an event from her high school years that all of us hope we will never have to face.

That was the day she and her family, along with the entire Hood River Japanese American community, were removed from their homes and relocated into internment camps.

“There are very few of us left,” said Hasegawa. “It is nice that they are doing something. I wish others could have been here.”

Hasegawa was in high school at the time of the relocation. Her letters home to a former teacher, Vienna Annala, were featured in a recent three-part News series on the internment, on May 9. She completed her schooling during her three-year internment.

“It should have happened years ago,” confirmed Kaz (Kiyokawa) Sumoge, who also attended the May 12 unveiling ceremony with her husband, Tom.

The Sumoges and Hasegawa were joined by several other train-evacuees at the memorial event. Family members of the trio and others of Japanese ancestry in the community joined a crowd of nearly 100 who came to give respect to those who endured the trauma.

In fact, 700 Hood River residents of Japanese ancestry suffered evacuation and internment after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. They joined more than 120,000 others from four western states in what would become a three-year incarceration, far from their homes.

While some non-Japanese community members fought the deportation of their Japanese-American neighbors, others stood by or encouraged the federal decision. The larger community has recently begun to take action toward reconciliation as a community.

On Saturday, May 12, an inscribed and illustrated plaque acknowledging the May 13, 1942, deportation of the Hood River Japanese community was installed at the Mount Hood Railroad station in recognition of those families affected by the injustice.

Ron Kaufman, MHRR general manager, invited those survivors present and their families, along with other community members, to board a 1912 train car, brought into the station to honor the occasion and provide a “step-back-in-time” opportunity. Event attendees could walk on board and perhaps imagine more concretely the experience of those taking that frightful journey into the unknown in 1942.

Members of the Hood River Japanese-American community who rode that original train were in attendance for the event, while board members of The History Museum of Hood River County conducted the ceremony to unveil the plaque. More than 100 people attended the unveiling.

The Gorge Community Foundation-Gorham Babson Family Fund purchased the plaque at the behest of longtime orchardist Sydney Babson. Babson opposed the internment and later instructed his heirs to find some way to honor his fellow orchardists and community members who he felt were dealt a grave injustice. Babson’s daughter Sydney Babson Blaine spoke briefly at the unveiling.

Jean Harmon served as emcee for the unveiling on behalf of The History Museum of Hood River County, who coordinated the event. Several community members toured the heritage train car following the ceremony.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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