The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers, Digital Edition > My Day
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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LOS ANGELES, Monday—To go on with my report on the Japanese relocation center, which I saw last Friday, and which I told you was fairly typical of all the others. I think the outstanding impression one receives is the feeling of respect for the staff and the problems which they must have faced at first.

When the barracks were unfinished, when water was not yet provided in sufficient quantity for the community and the people were moved in, the place must have been not only uncomfortable but very chaotic. The people, themselves, must have shown qualities of endurance and willingness to cooperate, or they would have despaired of ever making life liveable and have become useless burdens on the government.

Great ingenuity has been used in planning schools. They have organized nursery, elementary, grade and high schools. They have no school buildings, so they use the barracks which are scattered all over the place. Two typewriters must serve all the pupils in the typing class, which means that they get a chance for ten minutes practice a day. Instead of being discouraged, they made keyboards out of cardboard with holes to represent the keys, and practiced on those.

The hospital is under the direction of an American doctor, but is staffed almost entirely by Japanese doctors, one of whom formerly had a very large practice outside of his own race. He is now doing a full-time job for $19 a month and his board and lodging.

You can divide the people into three groups. 1. Those who came here many years ago and cannot be citizens, but who still do not wish to go back to Japan. 2. Those who are American citizens by virtue of birth and have had all their education in this country. 3. Those who were born in this country but returned to Japan for their education and only came back here in 1939 and 1940.

These last are probably the ones who have the least allegiance to any country. Many of the young American born and educated men are now joining the Army division made up of men from Hawaii and from these evacuation camps. Some of the sons of the older people were already in the Army before the evacuation took place and many of the American born girls asked me whether they would have an opportunity in the women's auxiliary services.

Arizona, New Mexico and parts of Texas have felt the war deeply because the regiments that fought and died in the Philippines, and some of whom are now imprisoned there, came largely from this part of the country. Their story is one of heroic bravery which will always live in the annals of the nation. It is natural that here the bitterness against the enemy Japanese should run high.

In spite of this, the people in this community, at least, have evidently won for themselves respect wherever they have had to go on business in the neighborhood. It speaks well for the enforcement of law and order, which is largely done by the evacuees themselves, and the people's own law abiding characteristics, that the record of crime or of any kind of disturbance of the peace, is lower than in any other city of its size in the country.



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My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, April 27, 1943

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
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Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University 312 Academic Building 2100 Foxhall Road, NW Washington, DC 20007

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Digital edition published 2008, 2017 by
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MEP edition publlished on 2008-06-30

TEI-P5 edition published on 2017-04-28

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Transcription created from a photocopy of a UFS wire copy of a My Day column instance archived at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.