Densho Digital Archive
Japanese American Film Preservation Project Collection
Title: Dave Tatsuno Interview II
Narrator: Dave Tatsuno
Interviewer: Wendy Hanamura
Location: San Jose, California
Date: May 17, 2005
Densho ID: denshovh-tdave-03-0007

<Begin Segment 7>

WH: Was there a Christmas letter that you sent out?

DT: Oh, I sent out a Christmas letter every Christmas. Every Christmas. I have, I have a whole folder full of my Christmas letters.

WH: Was there one in particular called "The Star Sleeps Tonight"?

DT: Yeah, that's in there. That's one of the letters in there.

WH: Can you describe it to me?

DT: Well, I just talked about the war outside the camp, and I'm in camp, see, and the snow falling, and I talked about the, some of the feeling I had at that time. I have that, all my Christmas letters in a folder.


WH: Go ahead and read what you had written in 1943.

DT: "This is Christmas 1943. Outside of the drab barracks stretching monotonously into the distance, snow is falling like little soft feathers, white flakes waft downward from the sullen skies. The desert wilderness so arid and so desolate, becomes suddenly covered with a magic mantle of glistening white, delivering a white Christmas. Inside the seemingly lifeless barracks, children are happily playing with gifts sent from loving but unknown friends scattered all over the United States. Here's a little doll sent from a Sunday school class in Iowa. The family next door has received a dozen eggs from one of the Sunday school class in Salt Lake City. A little tot clutches joyfully at parts of a Tinker Toy sent from another little tot in Falwell, Massachusetts. Here is a stationery from a seventeen-year-old girl in Ohio, and already a thank-you letter is being written with it by a grateful Nisei lass of the same age, a correspondence which may ripen into a lifelong friendship. In another barrack apartment, a frail widowed mother watches with dewy tears of thankfulness as her nine-year-old daughter eagerly opens a beautifully wrapped gift from Kansas City, and nearby, a smiling youngster is sprawled on the near floor by the GI stove, excitedly coloring his crayon book sent by the community church of nearby Provo. Multiply these Christmas scenes a thousand times, for such touching scenes took place in almost every barrack of the ten War Relocation Centers scattered throughout the United States. No, this isn't an ordinary year, there's a war on. The world is engulfed in a fiery holocaust of bloodshed, hate and hysteria. Men the world over are destroying each other. Violence and cruelty are the rule and not exceptions. Be kind, one to another, seems a hollow teaching. But out in the cold and silent desert, the star still shines tonight. The star of Bethlehem still shines two thousand years after, through the Christ-like love of Christians, all of America. Peace on earth seems a mockery, but goodwill to men exists because of these people who follow Christ unselfishly giving and sharing. Truly inside and outside the barracks, a white Christmas." And that's this one here.

WH: Do you remember writing that, Dave?

DT: Oh, I remember. Yeah, I do. [Laughs] But these are all, every Christmas I wrote a different one, see.

WH: And who would you send these to?

DT: Well, to my friends, but I'm eliminating Christmas card now, you know, just about. Let's see, at ninety-two, I figured, I've done it.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2005 Densho and The Japanese American Film Preservation Project. All Rights Reserved.