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Return to Heart Mountain

Japanese-Americans interned during World War II tell their stories

Bacon Sakatani, 82

— Photo by Kevin Miyazaki

Bacon Sakatani, 82

How old were you when you arrived at the camp?
I turned 13 on the train ride to Heart Mountain in August 1942. I was with my parents, 2 older brothers, an older sister and a younger sister.

How long were you there?

I was there almost 3 years.

What is your strongest memory from the camp?

We had one room for 7 of us.

What did you do after you were released from the camp?

We went to an Idaho potato farm to pick potatoes. When winter came and there were no more jobs, we returned to California to start all over again, with hardly anything. This was the toughest part of our total experience. But we made it. When I got out of school, I served in the Korean War, got married and had three children, worked at various jobs and retired.

How do you feel about Heart Mountain and that time in your life?

For my parents, they lost everything, all of their life’s work. As a teenager I didn't know anything of what was going on, just tagged along to camp and spent three years there running around with kids my age with what was available to us. For us kids, we had football and Boy Scouts to keep us out of trouble and occupied. But to learn many years later that it was all due to "race prejudice, war hysteria and a lack of political leadership," as stated by the commission established by Congress, and then to receive an apology by President Bush and a check was really something. Heart Mountain should never have happened.

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