Sunday, February 20, 2022

Minidoka Desert


2/19/22 (from a 1945 photo)

Iconic pipe in his mouth, my dad is holding a wide-brimmed hat of the type that I never saw him wear by the time I was born. My mom is smiling, her arms wrapped around my second brother Frank, who seems distracted by whatever he is eating. My oldest brother Richard, wearing what looks like a captain’s hat, squats in front. It could be a photo from a family picnic – except for the bleak desert landscape and the lone tower on the horizon. It looks like the middle of nowhere.

This sketch was made from a rare photo of my family taken at Minidoka Relocation Center, Idaho, in 1945. “Internees” were prohibited from having cameras, but a visiting friend in the US military, who was allowed to have a camera, took the photo.

Eighty years ago yesterday, President Roosevelt signed the Executive Order that would imprison 120,000 Japanese Americans at Minidoka and other relocation centers for the duration of World War II. Our mom was pregnant with Frank the day it was signed.

In my mother’s scrapbook, which was translated after her death, she wrote: “[Richard] doesn’t know yet that he will have a brother soon. He is still the center of his parents’ attention. We are not allowed to take pictures in camp. I wonder when I’ll be able to take photos of them together.”

Please think about that day in American history and how it affected so many people, including my parents and brothers.


  1. Thanks for sharing this moment with your family.
    This was a sad time and we need to make sure we don't repeat it. Wish the sit would get more recognition in the state as a learning tool


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