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Letters: Executive Order 9066

January 07, 2013

I read with great interest the Nov. 19, 2012 article on dental students of the Jewish faith at Emory University. I would like to remind my colleagues that this same kind of discrimination occurred to Americans of Japanese ancestry in 1942, not only to dental students but to pharmacy and medical students as well.

On Feb. 19, 1942, President Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, which resulted in the relocation and imprisonment of over 110,000 Japanese and Japanese-Americans. There were students in professional schools who were kicked out or refused admittance due to their ancestry despite the fact that they were Americans. Many went to camps set up in distant sites by the Department of the Interior, ending their education by this executive order. The University of California sped up the graduation process of their pharmacy students who were soon to be interned in order that these final year students could obtain their diplomas and enter into that profession.

I have knowledge that some displaced dental students were later admitted to Midwestern dental schools like Kansas City, Northwestern, Washington and St. Louis universities, as well as Loyola University in Chicago. I was born in one of those internment camps (Tule Lake Relocation Center in California in 1944) so do not have firsthand knowledge of this experience. I encourage my colleagues who suffered this humiliation to share their stories so that this does not happen again. To our fellow Jewish professionals, we Japanese-Americans can understand what you went through and would like future generations to know that sometimes democracy can be sidetracked but will eventually right itself.

Jerald Satoru Takesono, D.D.S.
Kaneohe, Hawaii