“Those horrible places I went to in the past ... I thought none of it could ever happen again. I thought people had learned…. I know thousands will die because some people think they’re right and everyone else is wrong. And not just this time. It’s going to happen over and over.”

From “Interrogation,” Chapter 17: Aleta

Contemporary photos of internment of Japanese American citizens during WW II

Deportation of the Japanese to internment camps in 1942

On the first day of April when the emerald-green grass on the hills behind Puerto Seguro had reached its full height before turning a summer yellow, Toshiro and Motomi Ito summoned both girls into their tiny apartment at the back. Aleta and Scarlett had never seen it before, and they stood amazed. Where were the beds, the rugs, the sofa and chairs, and all the other ordinary trappings that cluttered an American house? Instead they saw rush mats on the floor, screens to divide the room in half, and two bedrolls tucked away in a corner. Then they followed the Ito’s example, first removing their shoes before kneeling around a low table set for tea.

Aleta announced in an awed whisper, “Mr. and Mrs. Ito, I love this room.” She stopped abruptly, worried that she’d spoken out at the wrong time. The air suddenly seemed laden with tragedy.

Mr. Ito waited for his wife to pour the tea before he began to speak in the precise English that he had learned in his youth at the university.

“You understand, Miss Siobhan and Miss Alice, that we are Japanese. We have read the posters, we have talked to our friends. There is nothing we can do. All of us leave our homes on April 7th with only a few things.”

As Mrs. Ito wept, he continued, “You see, we are considered dangerous, maybe we hide secrets. I myself am very dangerous. I learned German many years ago.”

Aleta asked softly, “Where will you go?”

“We do not know, but we think we go to what is called a relocation center, and from there to a camp. We have heard rumors about barbed wire.” Mr. Ito went on with an eerie serenity, as he stared into the depths of his tea. “Miss Alice, it is best not to speculate.”

Aleta frantically scoured her memory for what she’d learned in her high-school American History class, but she could not recall a word in her textbook about this human catastrophe. A thought flashed through her mind, Like the Jews, but I sure hope it will end better.

From “Losing the Dream,” Chapter 5: Toshiro and Motomi Ito, Aleta, Scarlett