75.

I can tell you exactly how long it takes

to forget an atrocity.


I took 5 years of Japanese language,

but I forgot it all.

I had no one to practice with.


Dementia was my greatest teacher.

After a lifetime of silence,

A lifetime of English.

“We went to Bailey Getzert school during the day, and then Japanese school at night. The teacher made us write the kanji over and over again.”

He wrote the kanji over and over, now, too.

My eyes were wide with how much history could be hidden by shame.


二度とないように。

Never again.

We say this now, but to lay the burden

of remembering on the oppressed

is to deny the sutures required for healing.

It is inhumane.


So, we are Japanese one day per year.

お正月.

New Years Day.

I remember feeling embarrassed the first time Uncle Yosh got visibly angry at the table.

“I worked for the army! I was just as American as everyone else! But I had to go to camp?!”

His hands shook.


I can tell you exactly how long it takes

to forget an atrocity.


On the 75th anniversary of Executive Order 9066, I write this in memory of Tadamichi and Ruby Sato. My grandparents who left behind the entirety of their culture to prove their patriotism and keep their family safe. My deepest gratitude to Densho.org for capturing more stories from my grandfather in his final years than we heard in a lifetime. I am now learning my history through your work. ありがとございます。

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