In 1942, when Mary Tanaka was 2 years old, the U.S. government arrested her father and took the rest of the Tanaka family from Juneau, Alaska, to the Minidoka prison camp in the desert of south-central Idaho. The United States had just entered World War II. The five members of the family spent the next three years in the sprawling, barbed wire-enclosed camp, where Mary briefly attended nursery school before convincing her mother to keep her in the barracks during the day. In 1945, as World War II drew to a close and after the Supreme Court ruled that detaining “loyal citizens” was unconstitutional, the family reunited in Juneau, and her father re-opened his cafe.
Decades later, Mary (now with the surname Abo) and her older sister Alice Hikido returned to Minidoka, a historic site now managed by the National Park Service. Alice had been reluctant to make the trip, but as the sisters sat on the stoop of the barracks, like they once did as children, she admitted it had been a good, although difficult, visit. They leaned into the wind, sweet with sage, that kicked dust into their eyes and brought memories from the past. “It’s flat as far as you can see,” Mary said. “The o... Read more