Executive Order 9066

History sometimes has a way of explaining what is not readily obvious at first glance. This photo taken at Tacoma Union Station ran on the front page of the May 17, 1942 issue of the Tacoma Times with the caption “Goodbye for the Duration”. Six year old Yukie Suekawa, her family and 900 Tacomans of Japanese descent were loading onto special trains headed to the Pinedale Assembly Facility near Fresno California. Because Tacoma was near the military base at Camp Lewis, the Japanese American community was among the first group to be sent to inland internment camps. Later in 1942, The Puyallup Fairgrounds would be fenced and livestock barns converted to housing units for families from Seattle and Alaska. But the Tacoma and Fife Valley residents, 2/3rds of which were U.S. citizens, were among the first in the country to be forced from their homes with only the baggage they could carry. There is a very brave smile on Yukie’s face, encouraged a bit by her father who wears a required identity tag and a more reflective expression of some concern about his family’s future. The Times banner headline read “Smiles Prevail as Japanese Leave”. The irony could not have been missed by Pvt. Howard L. Loudermilk as he tightens the bonnet on Yukie’s doll, as if to tell the little girl “don’t be afraid”. Timeless advice.


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