American Public Media is collaborating with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History to produce a podcast series on America’s internment of Japanese civilians during WWII and its legacy. Order 9066 will launch on February 19 – the anniversary of the executive order’s signing – which is also known as the Day of Remembrance. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 just months after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. Roughly 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry were forced from their homes and sent to one of 10 “relocation centers” in the U.S., and imprisoned behind barbed wire during the war. About two-thirds of them were American citizens.
The podcast chronicles the history of this incarceration through vivid, first-person accounts of those who lived through it. Order 9066 will span eight episodes through July, and will culminate in three, hour-long national radio specials.
The series will cover the racist atmosphere of the time, the camps’ makeshift living quarters and the extraordinary ways incarcerated people adapted; the fierce patriotism many Japanese-Americans continued to feel, the 33,000 who served in uniform in the U.S. military, and the ways incarcerees were divided against each other as they were forced to answer questions of loyalty. It will also cover the movement for redress that eventually led to a formal apology from the U.S. government, and much more.
“The upcoming Day of Remembrance is a particularly timely date to launch Order 9066, but the series’ themes of fear, intolerance, and perseverance are important to reflect upon in today’s fractious political climate,” said series co-producer Stephen Smith. “The tragic events surrounding Order 9066 pose a major historical lesson about how America should, and should not, respond when the nation’s founding principles are under attack.”