Densho Digital Archive
Topaz Museum Collection
Title: Helen Harano Christ Interview
Narrator: Helen Harano Christ
Interviewer: Megan Asaka
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: June 18, 2008
Densho ID: denshovh-chelen-01-0014

<Begin Segment 14>

MA: Was there ever any point where the students -- I think you had mentioned earlier that they expressed some sort of, not anger, but just kind of resentment about the whole internment situation?

HC: Yeah, uh-huh. Yeah, there were people who, some of the students who said, "I'm Japanese so why should I pledge the American flag? Why should I sing the American national anthem? 'Cause they're not, they don't respect me, so why should I respect them?" And so we, I think the teacher worked it out so that we pledged the flag only on certain days and not every single day of the week. And I may be mistaken on this, but I think she told some of the students that if they thought that they couldn't pledge the flag, that they could just stand and not pledge the flag, but they were to be respectful anyway. Yeah, there were those who did not want to be respectful of being Americans and were resentful of being in the camp because of, of their ancestry.

MA: What about your parents? I mean, as American citizens themselves, did they have certain views that they expressed about, about the internment in general?

HC: Actually, not in front of me. I don't know if they did in front of any of my other brothers and sisters, and if they did it in front of me and I wasn't getting it, that may be true, too. But later on in life, when I was, oh, in my fifties and my parents were (visiting), maybe I was in my forties and my parents were in their fifties and sixties... sixties, must have been in (their) sixties, after my dad retired, I asked my dad, "Why was there no... why weren't the, why didn't the Nisei do something about not being in, not having to go to camp?" And he said, "Well, what could we do? 'Cause if it were only the aliens who would be interned, that would be like just Grandma in our family group, and what would, what would happen to her all by herself?" And then with my grandma, with his parents (going), it would be just the two boys (left), the two teenage boys, and what's gonna happen to them? What'll they do? They'll go wild without their parents. So he said there was nothing we could do, and it was either all of us or none of us. And I said, "Oh, okay." And so it wasn't resignation necessarily, but understanding that it could be a whole lot worse if, if there was a revolt by the Japanese people about being interned.

MA: Yeah, that's an interesting perspective.

HC: And they had no... they had no choice, as long as the government was bound and determined to do it, then they had no choice.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Topaz Museum. All Rights Reserved.