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In August of 1942, 6,448 Japanese Americans arrived in Wyoming by train. The nation had gone insane with fear that people who shared ethnic backgrounds with Japan would turn upon our country. The belief that any one of them could potentially be dangerous was enough for the government to strip citizens of their rights and detain them without due process or justice.

As our nation spreads the same rhetoric about immigrants and refugees, we need to hear about Heart Mountain and the injustices done to our citizens by their countrymen, and the dignities and triumphs of those persecuted. George Santayana said those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it, but the consequences are even more dire. Those who refuse to remember this past will condemn innocents to suffer. America is not made great by ignoring history; we must acknowledge the past and work together to prevent future travesties.

In the words of George Takei, who spent part of his childhood in internment camps, “It seems to me important for a nation to certainly know about its glorious achievements, but also to know where its ideals failed in order to keep that from happening again.”

How long do we have to hear about Japanese internment camps?

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For as long as our nation is intact and for centuries afterward, because Heart Mountain is a part of the fabric of our great country, whose colors have performed deeds both heroic and heinous, but is always, always moving forward.

Tucker D. Nelson

Billings

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