Densho Digital Archive
Loni Ding Collection
Title: Howard H. Furumoto Interview
Narrator: Howard H. Furumoto
Interviewer: Loni Ding
Location: Hawaii
Date: December 5, 1985
Densho ID: denshovh-fhoward-01-0001

<Begin Segment 1>

HF: On December 7th, I was in my room studying as usual for an examination. All of a sudden there was an announcement on the radio which my roommate next door happened to have on. And it was a stark announcement by Franklin Delano Roosevelt of the declaration of war against Japan following the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7th. Obviously I could not believe my ears at first, but gradually the truth of the situation sunk in. And that bit of history in my past changed the whole complexion of my educational process. At that point in time, then the education became secondary, and I immediately sought ways and means to become involved in the war myself.

LD: Could you start again? I would like you to tell me that, when the war came... by this time in the film, people have seen footage of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, so you won't have to tell us. That'll be taken care of. I just want to know, personally to me, talk to me personally about this, that you were at Kansas, and what you were studying. Just tell us, you were from Hawaii, tell us that. You were from Hawaii, and when war came, you were studying...

HF: Veterinary medicine.

LD: Veterinary medicine at Kansas, and your reaction. Tell me personally.

HF: My reaction to the war?

LD: Your reaction, yeah, to the war, and what you wanted to do. But I want you to talk to me like a conversation, even though we never see me, but we will see it, the viewer will feel that you're talking to them. So let's start again. Tell us why and where you were in Kansas, and what you were studying, and then from there.

HF: Okay. When war was declared between Japan and the United States, I happened to be in Manhattan, Kansas, studying veterinary medicine at Kansas State University. I had just become accepted into the professional curriculum of veterinary medicine. Obviously with the declaration of war, education became a secondary matter to me, and service to the country became a primary concern. With that in mind, then, I applied for the ASTP program for professionals.

LD: I hear the voice of a very mature man who's raised kids in 1985. And what I want you to give me is the feeling of that twenty year old boy, nineteen year old boy.

HF: I see.

LD: I want to hear that boy. Could you do that voice? If you could give us that feeling of that, just why you're studying, and what your thoughts and feeling was. Can you do that? "When the war came..."

HF: When the war came, I was a student at Penn State University in Manhattan, Kansas. And as I recall, those days, I was deeply into studies because that was really the reason why I went to Kansas State, was to become a veterinarian. So with the declaration of war, then all my hopes and aspirations for becoming a veterinarian became secondary, and I looked into the possibility of proving my loyalty to the United States as a young soldier.

LD: You felt your loyalty was at issue immediately? You felt that right away?

HF: That's correct.

LD: "I felt..."

HF: How shall I say this? This was a conflict between two countries, the one country of my birth, and on the other hand, the country of my ancestors. However, my loyalty rested with the United States, and always has been.

LD: When you heard about this, you immediately sensed that you personally, someone like you, that issue was right there immediately.

HF: I realized that point immediately.

LD: You realized what immediately?

HF: That the position of the Nisei was in jeopardy.

LD: Could you just start that as a complete sentence? "I realized right away..."

HF: I realized right away that the position and the loyalty of the Niseis in the United States was in jeopardy.

LD: Out there in Kansas, what was it like for you to go to school in Kansas? So you were from Hawaii, right?

HF: That's right. Of course, there were certain incidents to confirm my observations, my feeling about the war situation at the time. People who used to be friendly in provincial Manhattan, Kansas, all of a sudden turned cold. Children on the streets began to shout epitaphs at me, and even to the extent of throwing rocks at me. So the condition became no longer tolerable.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 1985 The Center for Educational Telecommunications and Densho. All Rights Reserved.