University commemorates students detained during WWII

On April 1 at 1:30 p.m., Willamette University President M. Lee Pelton will dedicate a bench, stone and plaque to 10 students of Japanese descent who were incarcerated during World War II. The ceremony will be held in front of the Mark O. Hatfield Library, along Mill Creek and near the flowering cherry tree sheltering the commemorative bench.

Participants will include United Methodist Church bishop Robert Hoshibata and Dean Nakanishi, Willamette alumnus and Seattle-area teacher whose research project documented the students’ story.

Following the dedication, a free concert in Rogers Music Center will feature Oregon’s fifth poet-laureate, Lawson Inada, and the multi-generational Minidoka Swing Band, including vocalists Hank Sakamoto and Nola Bogle.

All 10 students forced to leave Willamette for government camps were American citizens complying with Executive Order 9066. In 1981, a congressional commission called the act a “grave injustice” and concluded that the order was a result of “race prejudice, war hysteria, and a failure of political leadership.”