When the Japanese struck Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, Aiko Herzig-Yoshinaga (then Aiko Yoshinaga) was a senior at Los Angeles High School.
She remembers the day the following spring that her principal took the Japanese students aside and said, “You’re not getting your diplomas because your people bombed Pearl Harbor.”
Japanese-American families on the West Coast were rounded up and sent to internment camps. Yoshinaga was worried that she would be separated from her boyfriend, so to the horror of her parents, Yoshinaga and her boyfriend eloped.
The Yoshinaga family was sent to the Santa Anita, Calif., detention center, and later to Jerome, Ark. Meanwhile, Yoshinaga and her new in-laws were sent to Manzanar, near Death Valley. Yoshinaga remembers their first day as hot and dusty, even though it was only April. The barracks where the family lived were crowded and sparsely decorated.
Photo: Lauren Migaki/NPR
Caption: Aiko Herzig-Yoshinaga was a high school senior when she entered the Manzanar internment camp. Now 92, she points to the place in Manzanar, near Death Valley in California, where she lived.