This past summer we hosted Kyle Tanemura as an intern at Densho. Kyle is a bright and affable young man–a computer science major at Cal Poly. He made important contributions to several projects here, including work on our new Names Registry. We were all impressed by Kyle’s professionalism, but the most profound thing to me was the connection that Kyle made to his own family history. In reflecting on his internship, Kyle recalled a moment when Japanese American incarceration history became very real for him:
“On a whim, I tried searching [the Names Registry] for my grandparents who I knew had been at the Minidoka and Manzanar camps. I found them, along with their family members, and was able to see the various pieces of information Densho had gathered about them. I have never asked my grandparents about their time in the camps, nor have they ever offered but I do know a lot about the lives they lived, and continue living, outside of that. That’s when Densho’s goal really struck me. The roster I was looking at wasn’t just a collection of names, birthdays, camp locations, etc. Instead, it was a list of 120,000 real people with real stories, both in the camps and outside of them, just like my grandparents. Densho was trying to collect as many of them as possible before they disappeared.”
This story strikes at the heart of why we do the work we do. Preserving and sharing the history of Japanese American World War II incarceration ensures that the story stays alive for generations to come and, we hope, will inspire action for equity and social injustice.
All of us at Densho are thankful for your support.
Densho Executive Director