Remembering Stanley Hayami on this Memorial Day and wondering what he would write in his diary in 2018 as our government tears children from their parents arms at our borders—parents who may never find their children; parents who are incarcerated for the crime of trying to find refuge in a country built by generations of immigrants looking for a better life.
Stanley, and thousands of young Nisei soldiers of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team of WWII, knew all too well the horror of anti-immigrant hatred. They were forced to leave their families in prison camps where 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry were incarcerated for the duration. They had committed no crime other than looking like the enemy. Two-thirds of them were American citizens. Like Stanley, thousands of young Nisei men and women fought for their country, in part to prove their loyalty and faith in the real America. They defended our democracy, in spite of the racists white supremacists that had robbed them of their civil liberties.
What would they say of America today? Of families torn apart, of immigrants who have lived here for decades being hunted down and sent back to their native lands, of Jewish cemeteries desecrated with Nazi Swastikas?
Is this what 19-year old Stanley and tens of thousands of others fought for and gave their lives to defend? Where is the America he believed in?
Surely this is one of the saddest Memorial Days in our history.