Editorial -- When and Now: In two ways, our history comes home

Our sense of history, and place, gets two major stimuli this week.

Gorge Owned hosts Hood River Mayor and history enthusiast Arthur Babitz at Springhouse Cellar Winery on Jan. 8 for the next “Sense of Place” lecture series. Babitz will explore the rich and well-documented past of Hood River using photographic archives of The History Museum of Hood River County.

Babitz has taken a personal hand in recent years in archiving and updating the museum’s image collection.

In past presentations, Babitz has shown a fine eye for detail and historical perspective, connecting the photos and what they show to what is happening in our communities now.

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Then there is the new visiting exhibit at The History Museum. Through Feb. 26, community members have a great opportunity to learn about a critical part of local history with “What if Heroes Were Not Welcome Home?” This detailed and evocative exhibit stops in Hood River for two months as part of a statewide tour, courtesy of Oregon Historical Society.

During World War II, Japanese Americans born and raised in Hood River served heroically with the United States Armed Forces in the South Pacific and in Europe. At the same time, many of their family members were unjustly incarcerated in concentration camps on American soil. When these soldiers returned home to Oregon at the end of the war, the welcome they received was anything but heroic.

At the OHS museum in Portland, the exhibit was unveiled in August with internees of the World War II camps, and their children and grandchildren as honored guests.

Many Hood River residents were in attendance, an indication of the sustained resonance of that troubling era.

It’s a ‘What If’ that was all too true, as we said in our Jan. 1 headline about the internments and the unfortunate reception received by most of the returning Nisei soldiers.

The museum’s “Heroes Unheralded” reception on Jan. 12, at 2 p.m. will be a thank-you celebration to remember the experiences of Japanese American citizens in World War II, and honor those who braved prejudices to help them or speak out against their treatment, according to Connie Nice, museum coordinator.

The exhibit is curated in part by Hood River native Dr. Linda Tamura, a historian and author, whose parents endured internment and discrimination.

The exhibit is here long enough to plan ahead for, but it does depart at the end of next month. It is an opportunity for education and understanding that should not be missed.

The History Museum of Hood River County is located at 300 E. Port Marina Drive, Hood River. The museum is open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

There is no admission charge for visiting the exhibit or attending the special celebration event on Jan. 12.

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