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The Idaho Homefront: Of Camps and Combat

[Image: 442nd Division veterans gathered at a memorial]Idaho Public Television brings you the compelling story of a country's fear, a great sadness, and, ultimately, heroism. It is the story of the Japanese-Americans in the war years of the 1940's.

During World War II more than 100,000 Japanese-Americans men, women and children were forced into internment camps. Nearly 10,000 were held at the Minidoka Camp in Idaho. When Japanese-Americans were allowed to fight in the war, many from Minidoka volunteered. They were put into one division, the 442nd. It became the most decorated unit of its size in World War II.

[Image: Hero Shiosaki sitting and looking at the camera]Many of those who were locked up by their country stayed in Idaho after their release from the camps or their return from war. They raised families and rarely looked back at those dark times. Idaho Homefront: Of Camps and Combat is their story.

Meet people like Hero Shiosaki and Roy Gikiu. They fought for our country in Europe and [Image: Roy Gikiu sitting and looking toward the camera]helped turn the tide during that bitter campaign. Both of these proud men felt the bitter sting of racism and resentment at home. Both felt it was better to fight and die if they must rather than bring disgrace to their families and their name.

[Image: Fumiko Hayashida wearing a hat and talking toward camera] Now in her 90’s, Fumiko Hayashida was a young mother when she was forced from her home on Bainbridge Island, Washington and sent to the camp in Minidoka.

Toshi Ito was an angry teenager when she was sent from Seattle to Minidoka. She wrote a novel about her experiences called Endure. It was meant to answer all the questions her granddaughter asked about that time in her life. Writing the book and time have helped her find forgiveness, but she will never forget what she went through.

[Image: Toshi Ito holding a vintage photo of herself when she was a teenager]Read entire interviews of these and other people featured in our program, as well as some speeches from a 2007 Symposium on civil liberties in wartime.

In the decades since the internment camps and World War II we have learned more about what these people went through. Memorials have been built to the Japanese-Americans who served our country in the armed forces and to those who served time behind barbed wire. Visit the Resources page for links to some materials now available about Japanese-Americans and their experiences.

A lot of people have contributed to the production The Idaho Homefront. We'd like to thank those who have made it possible.

Funding provided in part by the generous support of WETA and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.