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Willamette University Honors Wartime Students

Japanese-American students at Willamette University during World War II were forced to say an abrupt goodbye when federal prosecutors rounded them up for a trip to an internment camp. In February, Willamette invites them to return for a series of events in their honor.

Japanese-American alumni from the time period, their families and the general public are invited to campus Feb. 19, the 66th anniversary of President Franklin Roosevelt signing Executive Order 9066 authorizing the removal of people deemed a threat to national security from the West Coast to relocation centers further inland.

Oregon Poet Laureate Lawson Inada and friends will present "Revisiting Willamette: A Sentimental Journey," an evening of poetry and jazz, Feb. 19 at 7:30 p.m. in Hudson Hall. Inada, a nationally noted poet and the author of five books, is an emeritus professor of writing at Southern Oregon University who was sent to an internment camp as a young boy. Gov. Ted Kulongoski appointed him Oregon's fifth poet laureate in 2006. The program also will include 1940s-era music performed by jazz musicians Larry Nobori, Rick Homer, Andre St. James, Nola Bogle and Gordon Lee. This event is co-sponsored by the Portland Japanese American Citizens League.

Earlier in the day, Shizue Seigel, author of "In Good Conscience," will discuss cross-racial alliances to protect civil liberties during wartime in a lecture at 4 p.m. in the Hatfield Room of the Hatfield Library. Siegel's book offers portraits of two dozen citizens who spoke out against internment and examines how ordinary people can become advocates for justice and compassion.

Two films, "From 9066 to 9/11" and "Stand Up for Justice: The Ralph Lazo Story," will be presented Feb. 18 from 4 to 6 p.m. in the Paulus Lecture Hall at the College of Law. The event will include a discussion with the filmmakers and local Japanese-Americans affected by Executive Order 9066. Ralph Lazo was a Latino teenager who boarded a train to a World War II camp so he could join his Japanese friends.

All events are free and open to the public. For more information, contact Michelle Maynard at (503) 370-6031.

02-13-2008