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Library Videos Bring To Life WWII Memories Of Japanese-Americans

Three videos produced by the San Leandro Public Library tell of internment and military service. They will air on Comcast Cable Channel 15.

Three videos produced by the San Leandro Public Library recount the stories of Japanese-Americans who were forced into internment during World War II, as well as those who served in the U.S. armed forces with distinction.

They are the true personal stories of Bay Area residents and veterans who range in age from 74 to 96.

Looking back, they tell of fears and suspicions, hardships endured, freedoms taken away, families separated, brave sacrifices and calls to duty.

Two of the three titles are oral histories of civilians who were sent to relocation camps in what is seen, in retrospect, as one of the worst infringements on liberty in American history.

These two videos are titled, "The California of the Past: Stories of Japanese American Internment" Series I and Series II.

They will air on Comcast Cable Channel 15 starting at 10:00 a.m. every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday through the end of the year. Each videos is about 90 minutes long and they will run back to back.

The third video, "Legacy of the Nisei Veterans," is a documentary about Bay Area veterans of the Japanese-American 100th/442nd Regimental Combat Team and the Military Intelligence Service who served during World War II.

Legacy will air each Sunday, Monday and Wednesday at 10:00 a.m. through the end of the year. It, too, is about 90 minutes long.

Copies of all three DVDs are available for borrowing at all San Leandro Libraries.

For the "California of the Past" series, library staff collected the oral histories of Bay Area members of the Japanese-American community as a permanent record of the exclusion, forced removal and internment of civilians and permanent resident aliens of Japanese ancestry.

Included in Series I are the tale a WWII Silver Star hero who was initially denied the right to enlist and a young girl’s experiences going to high school and working in the camp.

Series II shares the stories of a young nurse’s aide; a son’s memory of his father’s carvings that were made in camp but years later were displayed at the Smithsonian Institution; and a mother-daughter recollection by Kathryn and Karen Korematsu about their husband and father, Fred T. Korematsu, namesake of San Leandro High School’s new 9th Grade Academy.

The "Legacy of the Nisei Veterans" is a documentary film that pieces together the experiences of ten Japanese-American men who served their country, despite having parents who were incarcerated at internment camps.

To make the video, library staff located Bay Area veterans of the Japanese-American 100th/442nd Regimental Combat Team, the most decorated unit for its size and length of service in U.S. Army history.

Included in the Legacy video are former members of the Military Intelligence Service who served in the South Pacific campaign against Japan by translating documents, interrogating prisoners, monitoring radio transmissions and collecting battlefield information.

Support for the videos came in part from three grants totaling $38,000 that Library staff secured from the California State Library California of the Past program, partially funded by the Federal Library Services and Technology Act, and the California Civil Liberties Public Education Program.

“We are very proud of the work our Library staff has done to bring these stories together, and very honored by and thankful for the stories of those who were willing to participate," said Library Services Director David Bohne.

For more information about the project, contact Library Service Manager Nancy Fong at (510) 577-3947 or nfong@sanleandro.org.

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