This is a map of some of the impact of Executive Order 9066, signed by President Roosevelt on February 19, 1942 to authorize military authorities to exclude civilians from any area without trial or hearing. The order didn’t single out Japanese Americans, but they were the only group to be imprisoned as a result of it.
St Peter’s held its last service for the remainder of the war on April 26, 1942, with Rev. Kitagawa ending his stoic entry in the church register that day with these lines: “At least a part of the congregation is leaving for the Puyallup Reception Center this week and so I hereby close this record and turn it over to the Bishop’s custodianship.”
This year, like every year, St. Peter’s commemorated this dark chapter with a special liturgy. I was asked to read out a part of the Executive Order—a very dry section of legalese; a banal evil made more obvious and ominous by the mournful tolling of a Japanese altar bell.
All together we prayed: “teach us to remember; teach us to listen; save us from forgetting.”
There are parallels to be made; threads to be connected between back then and right now. But not tonight. Tonight, I’m sitting with the active stillness of learning.
“Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.” (Psalm 37:7)