Having the American government assign national monument status to Minidoka is a kind of resurrection. It is as if through the act of naming Minidoka a monument, the place called Hunt, where Minidoka was located, was suddenly "found," and placed squarely and indelibly on to the map of American consciousness.

When I went to high school in Chicago, there were no references in the history textbooks to the suffering of our people. When I wrote a term paper on the internment in the 10th grade, my history professor mocked me by saying that I was vitriolic in my assessment of the event.

It's difficult to describe what it feels like to be ashamed of the event surrounding one's birth, and then to feel ashamed again for having the temerity to make reference to the internment in my adolescence.

Looking back, I can understand that white people were uncomfortable discussing the violation of our human rights, because they were, most probably, ashamed of the event as much as we were.

I am no different from any other Japanese Americans who were interned, except that the vast majority of my generation were born well before the internment. We acknowledge that we were forced behind barbed wire, but we do not admit to unstated condition of our release: we were "required," as part of our entrance back into civilized society, to bury our history and our feelings of outrage in order to "get along" in America.

To compensate for the "shame" of my birth, I've out performed my white peers in school and in my various careers, but it never erased the nagging feeling that I would never be truly good enough.

Ironically, it is not the acceptance of individuals that I craved. It was the official admission of America that something worth remembering occured in a desolate, desert camp in Idaho.

Now I have some assurance that a few fragments of our struggle in Minidoka will not be erased from our country's memory and consciousness. As well, a burden has been removed. The responsibility for recalling our blemished past is now shared by the perpetrators of the injustice.

And most importantly, I now understand that it was my inglorious fate to see through the lens of disgrace--not honor--what is true.

-- Diana Cole, Jan. 23, 2001

The Camps: Tule Lake, Minidoka

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