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Title: David Sakura Interview I
Narrator: David Sakura
Interviewer: Virginia Yamada
Location: Thornton, New Hampshire
Date: March 25, 2022
Densho ID: ddr-densho-1000-498-9

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VY: Do you have any memories of what you were feeling or thinking at that time?

DS: I really don't, but I do remember... actually, I do remember filling up my mattress pad with straw. And I do remember, I still have the image in my mind, of the horse stall with the beds stacked up in the horse stall. I do remember, at some point, I was fingerprinted by the FBI and looking at the ink on my finger. And as an adult, as a U.S. citizen, I'm still appalled that the FBI could fingerprint U.S. citizens, children six years of age, for reasons that were beyond our control. I just find that an egregious act of the government. But I still remember the, looking at my blackened finger with the ink that was leftover from my fingerprint.

VY: I imagine it must have been sort of confusing. I mean, did you understand what was going on, like why any of this was happening?

DS: No. I had no idea what was happening, but I think I had the sense that I shouldn't get lost because it could be catastrophic among the six thousand residents, internees of "Camp Harmony." So even today, I have this innate fear of getting lost. Even as an adult, I have dreams of getting lost in some foreign maze of a city. And I often wonder why I have these reoccurring dreams, and I think it comes from this unspoken fear of getting lost, either in "Camp Harmony" or in the wide expanses of Minidoka internment camp. So I think there are some unconscious effects on children from the internment. And I think one of the most vivid memories I had -- and I've talked about this extensively -- is that of my brother Jerry who was about, what, two and a half, three years old. And he was visibly disturbed by the whole experience of the uprooting of the new circumstances of the horse stall, of the crowds of people. He would... I remember him crying constantly, my mother couldn't console him. No matter what she did, he would cry for long periods of time. And what I remember most distinctly is that his voice became so hoarse after crying so long. And my mother was so distraught because she couldn't comfort him, that his voice became more of a hoarse animal-like sound. It was an inhuman cry of pain by my three-year-old brother.

VY: You know, I wonder if you and Jerry have ever talked about the camp experience with each other. I know obviously he was so little he probably doesn't have actual memories of it.

DS: I don't think we really talked about it, but I do, when people ask, like yourself, memories of the camp, what really stands out, well, I think Jerry's crying was the most vivid memory that I have of the camp. And I often wondered what that did to my mother who loved her children, to be in such a helpless and hopeless position where she couldn't comfort her children.

VY: Yeah, that's heartbreaking to think about that.

DS: And there was nothing that one could do. And so part of the lore of the internment is that you had to show gaman, "it can't be helped." You have to be stoic about it. I think there's still a lot of unspoken pain that people experienced from this whole internment during World War II.

VY: Do you think it's better to talk about it?

DS: I think it is. But for me, there's a sense of frustration about what happened to us, to the innocent Americans of Japanese descent. And that, yes, there has been some recognition, some redress, but I think the reason I talk about the internment is that people someday who hear the story will recognize that there are some actions that are extremely devastating to people.

VY: Yeah, and I think it will be really important to talk more about when you started really thinking about the camp experience and talking about it and sharing your stories. So I think that that will be a really good thing to be, for us to talk about a little bit later. Want to make sure we get, have time to talk about all of that. For now, let's talk about, let's continue to talk about camp, and how it was through the eyes of a child who was, you were, what, ages six to eight, I think, in camp.

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