July 14 – September 23, 2017

The Willamette Heritage Center is proud to announce it will host the debut of a new national traveling exhibition by Go For Broke National Education Center (GFBNEC), “Courage and Compassion: Our Shared Story of the Japanese American WWII Experience.”

The exhibit will chronicle the story of the Japanese American experience during WWII, and feature local stories of bravery and tolerance from the Willamette Valley. The GFBNEC exhibit is funded in part by a 2016 grant administered by the National Park Service (NPS).

The exhibition will reflect on the Japanese American experience from wartime incarceration and postwar resettlement to the redress movement that resulted in the Civil Liberties Act of 1988. The interactive exhibit, designed by Quatrefoil Associates, will feature images and audio of firsthand accounts, including interviews of Japanese American soldiers from GFBNEC’s Hanashi

Advertisement taken out by Frank Tanaka in December 1941 edition of the Oregon Magazine. WHC Collections, 2008.038.0187.

Advertisement taken out by Frank Tanaka in December 1941 edition of the Oregon Magazine. WHC Collections, 2008.038.0187.

Oral History Collection.

Despite the hostile climate following the Pearl Harbor attack, some Willamette Valley locals and leaders spoke up in support of their Japanese American friends. From farmers who helped their incarcerated neighbors save their crops to a local Senator who braved political backlash to suggest that Japanese Americans might remain loyal to the U.S., these individual voices of conscience deserve to be remembered today.

In addition to telling the national story, the exhibit will feature interviews with local residents, and artifacts documenting experiences. Visitors will get a chance to see materials from the Tanaka family’s restaurant and read the advertisement Frank Tanaka took out in a local magazine declaring his loyalty despite the threats and vandalism he had experienced.  “I am an American, too,” he wrote.

Through summer 2019, the exhibit will visit 10 U.S. communities where citizens extended a helping hand to Japanese Americans during and after the turbulent days of WWII. In the wake of the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, many U.S. officials and residents viewed Japanese Americans with fear and mistrust. Japanese Americans were targets for harassment and discrimination, and families on the West Coast were forcibly removed to government incarceration camps.

About Go For Broke National Education Center

Go For Broke National Education Center (GFBNEC) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit foundation that educates the public on the valor of Japanese American veterans of World War II and their contributions to democracy. Our goal is to inspire new generations to embody the Nisei veterans’ core values of courage, sacrifice, equality, humility and patriotism. Founded in 1989, GFBNEC maintains the Go For Broke monument and the interactive “GFBNEC’s Defining Courage Exhibition” in downtown Los Angeles, as well as extensive oral histories and archives, education and training programs, and other initiatives. For more information, please visit www.goforbroke.org.

About the NPS JACS Program

This project is funded, in part, by a grant from the U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Japanese American Confinement Site Grant Program. For more information regarding the JCAS grant program, please contact Kara Miyagishima, Program Manager, Japanese American Confinement Sites Grant Program, NPS, at 303/969-2885.