Densho Digital Archive
Bainbridge Island Japanese American Community Collection
Title: Brooks Andrews Interview
Narrator: Brooks Andrews
Interviewer: Joyce Nishimura
Location: Bainbridge Island, Washington
Date: October 7, 2006
Densho ID: denshovh-aemery-02-0010

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JN: Today, how do you feel about what happened to your family during World War II? How do you feel about the memorial? Could you comment on the parallels with the Islamic community and current events?

BA: I am very passionate about these experiences that we went through. And, but, for many years in my younger years, growing up, I mean, I mean in adulthood, I really kind of compartmentalized that whole era. Didn't visit it in my mind, didn't read anything more about the history or find out stories. For some reason I just, I just wanted to maybe try to erase that. But in, in my later adult years I started engaging in those stories. And so now I'm very passionate about that whole internment story and eager to tell that story, because so many people do not know about it. And, my dad... Dad had died on Memorial Day in 1976. But in February of 1976 he was interviewed by the religion editor from the Seattle Times, Ray Rupert was his name. And my dad was asked the question: Do you think this could happen again? And... I get very emotional at this point. [Pauses] My dad, in what I call a very prophetic voice, said, "No, I don't think it could happen again. Maybe not to the Japanese, but maybe to some other group." And I think those, those words of his that are coming true today, when I think of our Islamic friends in the Muslim community. Because there are parallels between the internment story and, and what possibly could happen to the Muslim community. There's a lot of discrimination. We haven't gone so far as to intern and incarcerate as a, as a whole people, the Muslim community. But I think that if we're not careful, that could happen.

And I think the memorial, any memorial... but over here on Bainbridge I've attended the blessing there at the, at the memorial, and I think it's important that we do memorialize these events. Past is prologue. Whatever happens in the past is part of, or could be part of what happens in the future. We either learn from our past and use it for healing and reconciliation, or we repeat those same lessons from the past again. And to tell the Bainbridge story, the whole internment story, we -- it's not a, it's not a pretty story, it's an ugly story. And I know a lot of the Japanese, especially Issei, did not want to talk about it. But a few years ago when we had the Minidoka Remembered event at the SeaTac airport area, it was really the first time that, that there was a coming together of the community. And looking at displays and listening to each other's stories, reacquainting, getting reacquainted with each other, that that was the beginning of the healing experience, I think, for, for the Japanese community. Because there's power in listening to each other's stories. When we listen to each other, we gain power from, from our, from our stories. And that power enables us to look forward with strength to not repeat what had happened before. And I think that's the beauty of the, of the Bainbridge Island memorial also. As much as there may be some resistance to that, we need to keep this in the front. I think Soren Kierkegaard, Danish philosopher and writer, he said something to the effect that, "We remember our lives backwards, but we live our lives forward." And I take that to mean that we look at our past and the events that have shaped us, that has formed us, and when we talk about those events, we find that there's a, there's a thread of... well, I'll put it in preacher's terms: a thread of salvation that goes through that whole, all those stories. And when we, when we look to our past, we realize how much God has really guided us, kept us, and strengthened us through these, through these stories. And, and again, I'm being preacher now at this point, the, the book of Second Corinthians in the, in the Bible, in New Testament, the apostle Paul, Saint Paul, writes to the church at Corinth, and he says, "Thanks be to God who comforts us in all our troubles." And Saint Paul goes on to say in that chapter there, that, that the things that have happened to us we gather strength from God, but we can pass that on. 'Cause we can comfort others with the same comfort that we have received from God. And, and the real kicker to this whole passage for me is that that Saint Paul goes on to say that, "These things happen so that we will not rely on ourselves but on God who raises the dead." And so for, to me, to me, the Minidoka Remembered event at the SeaTac airport was our resurrection.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.