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Learning About the Internment
I have just finished reading Part Two of “The Stolen Years,” and want to tell you how much I appreciated these articles. I started at the UW in the fall of 1950. I had Professor Gordon Hirabayashi for Sociology 101, and it was then that I learned of the wartime evacuation/relocation of Japanese Americans from the West Coast. (I had been a child in New York state at the time.) I had a Japanese American friend in high school in Seattle in the late ’40s whose family was living on Beacon Hill, yet I had never heard a word from any of them about what had happened to them during the war years.

I had Professor Frank Miyamoto for classes, and then worked for him as a reader (grading exams) and research assistant when I was a graduate student. He is a man of such dignity and integrity! I adored him. I didn't know he had been teaching at the UW at the time of the internment.

I was active in the student YM-YWCA in the early ’50s and also developed Quaker connections about that time. If the UW gave me my formal education, it was at the student Y that I developed my spiritual, social, political and international awareness. It is not surprising that Gordon Hirabayashi was active at the Y, or that staff and students there, along with Quakers and other socially concerned members of the community, supported him in his standing for, and suffering from, his principles.

It is easy to look back and say how awful something was. It is harder to see it at the time and to try to do something about it. In any case, thank you for bringing to the present those people and activities that were such a part of my formative years.

Elizabeth Jallie Bagshaw, ’53, ’76
Seattle

Bad, One-Sided Journalism
Your articles on the wartime internment of some Japanese are bad, one-sided journalism by people who obviously weren’t there and have no idea what the situation really was. Please read more of the whole story. See my article “Wartime Internment”.

Robert E. Hannay, ’47
Phoenix

A Special Place in Our Hearts
Thank you for your great article on Gordon Hirabayashi. Frank Walters was my grandfather; unfortunately he passed away in the mid-1970s and did not see the result of his work on this case. [Walters was a local Seattle attorney who argued for Hirabayashi’s civil rights all the way to the Supreme Court.]

My grandmother, Ruth Walters, lived into her late 90s and was delighted with the news of Gordon’s eventual court victories. [In 1987, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the government had withheld information from the courts in Hirabayashi’s original legal challenge during the war.] She said Gordon always had a special place in her heart for what he went through in all of this.

Mike Wilson,’76
Yakima

Liberties and Threats
Thank you for your two-part article about the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. I read the letters from readers with great interest, particularly the sentence “Let us hope that the government never again makes the same mistake of stripping its citizens of their civil liberties.” I believe our government is doing precisely that, with the so-called “Patriot Act,” with unauthorized spying on U.S. citizens, and other activities. As in the 1940s, the public has accepted government claims that threats to our way of life justify giving up civil liberties.

Brian K. Davis, ’70
Carmichael, Calif.

Class War in Washington?
I appreciated the cover story on Dan Evans [“Mr. Washington,” March 2006]. I remember him as a governor who was a progressive Republican, a term that might be considered an oxymoron today. One part of the interview irked me, however. Evans noted that “The community college system is so big, so broad, so consuming of tax money. That has really kept back some of the necessary support of four-year institutions and post-graduate work that now is an economic necessity.” As an instructor at a community college, I know my college and all community colleges add to the economic well-being of Washington state: they create an educated work force, and offer a less-expensive alternative for the first two years of college. I think the answer to the funding problem lies in having a sufficiently strong tax base that will generate enough revenue for the four-year and the two-year institutions of higher learning.

I don’t think we want to create a class war in Washington where one level of higher education is pitted against another.

Larry Silverman, ’65, ’69
Seattle

A World Leader in Health
I am impressed and pleased that UW is establishing the new Department of Global Health [“New Global Health Department Could Change Lives of Millions,” March 2006]. This demonstrates the school’s continuing commitment to vigorous leadership in all health issues. In 1985,when Rotary International, the world’s oldest and most successful service organization, determined to eradicate Poliomyelitis [polio] from our earth, it would have been very beneficial to have such a department leading the way with effective research and coordination of efforts. When the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control advised Rotary that such an effort was futile, the Rotarians of the world proceeded with effective fundraising and five-year pilot programs in the Philippines, Morocco, Bolivia, Haiti, Sierra Leone and Cambodia. These were enormously successful and led to WHO and CDC joining Rotary three years later as partners in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. This is now recognized worldwide as a model for public and private cooperation in pursuit of humanitarian goals. The yearly toll of 350,000 cases of paralytic polio has now been reduced to just over 1,000 cases last year, and it is altogether possible that the last case in the history of this world could be contracted later this year. So far this year there have been 19 cases identified, 11 of these being in Somalia. Polio will soon join smallpox as the only disease to be eradicated. The private members of Rotary International have now contributed more that $600,000,000 to this initiative. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has been a major supporter and so I am not surprised that they continue as the major funding source for the new Department of Global Health. The results will surely improve the health of our world. Congratulations.

Wally Brown, ’63, ’73
Salt Lake City

 

*Letters to the editor are encouraged. Brief letters are more likely to be published; longer letters may be edited due to lack of space. Please include a daytime phone number and send all correspondence to: Editor, Columns Magazine, 1415 N.E. 45th St., Seattle, WA 98105. You may send e-mail to or send a fax to 206-685-0611.