Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Good War~ Peter Ota

Peter Ota is a Japanese-American who was a young teenager during World War Two. He lived in Santa Anita, California when Pearl Harbor was attacked by the Japense on December 7th, 1941. Immediately him and his family were "relocated" to a camp, the first of many to come. Ota was 15 at the time of entering the camp, along with his twelve year old sister, and ailing mother. His mother became very ill and was transfered to a hospital where she later died. Peter claims that his mother died from the shame of what was happening to her family. Peter's father, a well respected business man "lost everything that he worked for in one night" and humiliated and stripped from all his belongings. The family was separated and put in two different camps for a year and then were later reunited. Three years later Peter turned eighteen and enlisted in the army before he was drafted. He served along with the very men that took his family from their home and enprisoned them. Peter felt very awkward and angry and dealt with harrassment and depression in the army. He was called names like "dirty Jap" and had to be watched at all times by other officers. He was not even allowed to use the bathroom himself, there was always a guard there overseeing him.
After the war was over Peter married and moved back to Santa Anita and started a family. He felt that he could not show his Japanese heritage and did everything the "American Way." He lived in an all-white neighborhood, taught his children all about America, and even celebrated all the American Holidays. His daughter later asked him about the relocation camps, and all Peter could do was tear and choke up. The terrible conditions he suffered during World War Two left him with many scarrs. He lost his mother, was separated from his father and sister, had to serve with the very men who were taking them away, and dealt with harrassment ontop of that. Although the camps were not as severe as the concentration camps in Germany, many Japanese-American families were emotionally and mentally broken.

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