Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Kara Kondo Interview
Narrator: Kara Kondo
Interviewers: Alice Ito (primary), Gail Nomura (secondary)
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: December 7 & 8, 2002
Densho ID: denshovh-kkara-01-0055

<Begin Segment 55>

AI: Well, speaking of "similar action," we're going to be jumping ahead now to the present, or almost the present, because I think, as we had discussed briefly before, about the events of September 11th, 2001, and what happened then with the attacks on the twin towers in New York and the Pentagon and the other so-called terrorist activities. And I'm just wondering when, if you recall, for yourself, what your thinking was. What, on September 11th of last year?

KK: Well, as you viewed it on the television, it was certainly dramatic, but I kept thinking of the scene that I viewed from the, the top of one of the twin towers. The Windows of the World, is it? The restaurant. And, and the expanse. The time it took for the elevator to go non-stop to the top. How long it took. And looking out of the window, seeing the helicopters like little tiny birds below, and the ships on, the boats on the Hudson just mere specks. And I thought, oh. And then I thought of the architect, Min Yamasaki, that I knew briefly before the war. And I thought, "Oh, I wonder what he's thinking about what's happened to his buildings." And, of course, the tragedy of the whole event. And then, of course, we were still reminded, of course, of that. And then the aftermath of who are they targeting? Who will be the targets of, and blamed for this event? And we are still seeing residues of that. I don't know whether... how long that will take. Whether it will call for some sort of redress, I'm not sure. I think we have to approach it in how, as you say, how we feel about the incident individually. I keep hearing stories of people who were there in Washington, D.C. at the time or in New York at the time and so it's still very dramatic. And we are now faced with possibilities of, of war on terrorists. And what form it will take, I'm not sure.

But I think we need to keep in mind, in retrospect, how the justice, how justice is served and how careful we must be to, as we view people who look like the perpetrators. And I don't know. I hope that we're wise enough from our own experience to, to view this and to live through this. Because it's right now at the point, where we are now in the point of history, we don't know what form it will take. But it will probably go on as long as it took for us to somewhat resolve or... in our own minds, the evacuation experience after World War II.

So I... for me to have lived through several experiences like this, it's going to be up to, to Alice and to Gail to find out how justice can be served and how we are able to look to ourselves and to others around us. How we can really perpetuate our feeling of fairness and of justice and of, of concern for people who are different. For people, for conditions that are troubling. And to be levelheaded about it and, without becoming too emotionally involved, I think. You know, "civil rights" is a big term. But in what way do we preserve civil rights?

AI: Well, there's, as we were speaking just a little bit earlier, there are so many parallels that have been made between September 11th and December 7th. And here we are, today is December 8th. Yesterday we began our interview on the 61st anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. And as you say, so much time, decades have passed since that, and yet it's still in the news.

KK: It recurs, doesn't it? Something similar... different. I think we all have to do what we can. And, with you, Alice and Gail are approaching it. And I'm so glad because it's a legacy, perhaps, that we have left a little bit and a legacy of events of our involvement in it and, and where you can, at least, come aware of current happenings and these, and circumstances around you without... and you have some feelings about the public. I know that a lot of us who are so-called retired seek pleasure. And I think, though we do deserve to have pleasurable times when we can enjoy our, what we have accomplished in the past. But I don't know, perhaps we're somewhat different that, that we, we don't, I couldn't spend the time playing cards and, and watching television. And when people say, "What do you do for fun? What kind of...?" [Laughs] I don't know what quite to say, except that I, I love gardening and, and watching nature and doing other things. And, but I think that, whatever we do, we need to be much more aware of the events and people around us and to know that somehow if, if we are really interested in it... in the events and people that we can make some sort of difference.

AI: Is there anything else that you'd like to add? Any other comment?

GM: Any final words? If you were to talk to your grandchild, what would you say?

KK: Oh, they would say, "Oh, Grandma's talking again," or something like that. [Laughs] And, and, but you, you, I think you, you leave examples. And not to say, "You should do this," or, "You should go there," but, but open up their mind to thinking, perhaps, little things, approaching things a different way. Thinking things a little broader, in broader terms and to contribute in their own way. Because certainly what will, what they will be doing compared to what I've done will be different. And, but it's a big country. We're increasingly, we're more diverse in culture and in religion, in our way of making a living. And so... but I think we need to think of each other, consider each other as persons. Here I am preaching to people, and I don't mean to do that way. But...

GN: I think you've earned the right. [Laughs]

KK: [Laughs] You think so?

GN: And I'm willing to learn.

KK: When you consider the one-room schoolhouse and, now, what changes have been made and, and... it's interesting, isn't it? It's my generation that has seen traveling with horse and buggy, and now into what? Space travel? So... and what will bring the future for our, our children and grandchildren? One never knows. But I hope that mentally and emotionally, spiritually, we can certainly maintain the rapid changes that are being made. And I'm sure that is up to you, now. I think I probably have done and said too much. [Laughs]

AI: Well, this has really been wonderful. Thanks very much.

GN: Thank you.

KK: You're welcome.

<End Segment 55> - Copyright © 2002 Densho. All Rights Reserved.