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August 23, 2011 9:10 am

EDITORIAL: Lessons from Heart Mountain should guide the future

Written by Tessa Schweigert

Nearly 10 years ago, commercial airplanes became weapons in terrorist attacks, striking our nation at its core. As America reeled in the fearful and frantic hours of Sept. 11, 2001, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta grounded all flights. In the days that followed, Mineta met with leaders in the White House and Congress to discuss our nation’s security and getting the airlines back up.

“There were a lot of people who were saying, ‘Don’t let Middle Easterners or Muslims back on the airplanes.’ And they were even talking about internment and rounding them up,” Mineta recalled.
During a meeting on Sept. 13, 2001, President George W. Bush said of those rising concerns: “We don’t want to have happen today what happened to Norm in 1942.”
Norman Mineta was one of around 14,000 Japanese-Americans relocated to Heart Mountain, living in barracks behind barbed wire as an internee — confined as a prisoner during World War II.
“History always has the ability to repeat itself, and what you are doing here is drawing that line in the sand to say that never again will there be something like what happened here at Heart Mountain,” Mineta told hundreds who gathered Saturday for the dedication of the Heart Mountain Interpretive Learning Center.
The new learning center teaches us important lessons from the past — difficult, heartbreaking, bitter lessons — so that we may make sure that this history never repeats itself.
As Japanese-Americans started their interrupted lives at the Heart Mountain Relocation Camp between Powell and Cody, Powell Tribune editor Raymond Baird used this newspaper to reach out to internees living here and ease concerns of Powell area residents.
He tried to bridge the gap between different ethnicities — it is now our responsibility to bridge the gap between generations.
Many young people don’t know the significance of Dec. 7, 1941. The uncertainty and terror. The unwavering American patriotism. The forced relocation of thousands of Japanese-Americans.
Those of us who didn’t live during World War II must be taught.
The Heart Mountain Interpretive Learning Center exists to teach generations today, and those to come, the important stories of the Japanese-Americans who lived in Heart Mountain’s shadow from 1942-45.
We are so thankful to see that a local effort that started 15 years ago has blossomed into an international learning center where the history of Heart Mountain is preserved.
While hundreds of Japanese-Americans made the pilgrimage for the opening weekend, most Powell area residents haven’t had the opportunity to see the new learning center yet.
We encourage you to tour this world-class facility and learn about the Japanese-Americans who lived behind barbed wire in Heart Mountain’s shadow.
Read their stories. See their faces. Hear their voices.
Consider what happened at Heart Mountain.


  • Comment Link August 23, 2011 11:09 am posted by Salty Dawg

    Consider what happened to thousands of Vietnam vets when they came back to this country full of hypocrites. Americans do not have to go back to WWII to get a dose of how people were treated,and it did not matter what nationality you were 40+ years ago,especially right in Powell,Wyoming where so many WWII vets treated Vietnam vets like worthless bull calves on a dairy farm.NEVER AGAIN WILL A GENERATION OF VETERANS ABANDON ANOTHER.

  • Comment Link August 24, 2011 7:01 am posted by TB

    Agree with Salty Dawg about the way Vietnam veterans were treated.Many still are treated the same way.Americans have no shame.

  • Comment Link August 27, 2011 3:36 am posted by Christopher K

    The reason Vietnam Veterans were probably treated in an such a negative way, especially by WWII vets, is not too hard to figure out. I base this on the fact that WWII was the last time America successfully fought and won a War. Korea, Vietnam, The Gulf War, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom were/are all limited in scope, horrible in their "Rules of Engagement" and prosecuted poorly, with an overall sense not to "offend" anyone. We used to bomb people into submission. I believe Civil War Union General William Tecumseh Sherman said it best, when he said "The more brutal it (war) is, the quicker it is over". Unfortunately, we have no more General Shermans or General Pattons commanding in our General Officer Corps. It is not the foot soldier's fault, its the fault of his commanders & political elite. But Vietnam ushered in the era of Media bias. Hence the anti-Bush and now pro-Obama media. They, the media, have a political agenda. American troops dies in Iraq & Afghanistan during the Bush Administartion. Now NATO soldiers die during the Obama administration. Just listen closely. That is all I ask.

    Now to the internment of Muslims in a post 9/11 America. Please find me a muslim who is a patriotic American first, and a muslim second. You cannot. Islam teaches Ala is the one you answer to first. The one to whom you submit. You can burn the Saudi flag all day long, and the people will not take much of an issue with it; burn an effigy of The Prophet Mohammad, and they will place a "fatwa" or a declaration, to have you killed. So much for their belief in "The Freedom of Speech". To them, killing you for doing the above, falls under Sharia Law, even if they are a U.S. citizen. You need to look no further than the Iraqi man who ran his daughter over here in the states; his logic / reasoning she was "too western". Remember, when you immigrate to America, you learn and abide by our customs and laws, not that of the place which you came from or escaped from.

    Why should we have interned muslims? Well, lets start with the Ground Zero Mosque controversy. The Muslims want to name the mosque at Ground Zero Cordoba. Search your history my fellow Powell, WY residents. After the muslims conquered part of Spain, they gutted a Catholic Churh, and renamed it "The Cordoba Mosque". See the "coincidence"? It's not a coincidence, their intentions are indeed to conquered America. We (the American people) are too worried about hurting other's feelings, and being politically correct. While the muslims use Islam as a "religious freedom", when in truth, it is a political movement, with its eyes on global domination and destruction of all other religions. Understand what Islam is about; its about the 3 options they give you as a non-believer: Covert, submit or die. Islam is in direct contrast to the U.S. Constitution and what our Founding Father's envisioned.

    Comparing Americans of Japanese parents / upbringing to Islam and muslims, does not even fall into the same category. I base this on the post WWII Japan, and its rise to power over the past 66 years, the freedom of expression in their society, the equal treatment of women, not to mention the tsunami that recently devistated the country. Look at their resilience, the manner in which they cope & maintained their dicisipline. Look what our "fellow Americans" did during Katrina. The looting. The killing. The majority of the people of New Orleans gave Americans a black eye. Look at the looting and killing going on in "The Arab Spring".

    Remember, you cannot bring a Holy Bible to Saudi Arabia, and they are a major ally.

    How do I know all this? What facts do I base this upon? I base it on 2 years of living in the United Arab Emirates. 3 Tours in Iraq. 1 year thus far in Afghanistan, 10 years in the U.S. Army and an adult life trying to educate Americans to research beyond the major news outlets, to better inform yourselves of what is really going on in this world. Just because you see & heard it on TV, doesn't necessarily mean its true.

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