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Jack, 89, Bellingham, Washington

Between the ages of 16 and 30, I experienced prejudice [as a Japanese-American]. I couldn't use … the public swimming pools, and shortly after Pearl Harbor, my draft classification was changed from 1-A to 4-C (alien ineligible for the draft). [In 1942], I was made a prisoner in U.S. concentration camps.

The FBI [later] cleared me to leave the camp to attend college at the University of Utah. After the 100th Battalion (a Japanese-American unit) proved their loyalty, I was reclassified as 1-A. I reported [for duty] but was rejected for bad eyes. Instead, I worked in a machine shop until V-J Day. I enrolled at [Case Institute of Technology, married an American woman and worked for] General Electric and various scientific companies in management positions.

I reflect on my past and realize that I was fortunate to have lived in the United States. I was not killed in a gas chamber. I was the recipient of so many good advantages. The old prejudices were gone. So, it occurred to me that I should look at the brighter, more positive side of things and that I should forgive all of the bad experiences. So, that's what I did, and I feel much happier and have no bitter feelings. It's just a clean, wonderful sensation!


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