June 4, 2008

We just finished our first day of interviews here in Salt Lake City. I interviewed Alice Hirai and Ted Nagata, while Tom interviewed Nelson Akagi. Alice was the first interview of the day. She was born in San Francisco and only 2 years old when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. A small child in Topaz, her reflections on camp came from a perspective that often goes unnoticed in discussions about the WWII incarceration. Alice also talked about her lifelong activism in the Salt Lake City public schools, and the sacrifices and struggles of her parents and the issei generation. Ted, who I wrote about in a previous message, told a fascinating story. Among other topics, he discussed the hardship that his family endured after camp and the origins and current preservation efforts of the Topaz Museum (of which he was a founding board member). An artist and graphic designer, he also gave us two books on Japanese Americans in Utah that he designed. It was quite a successful day!