February 19, 2017 marks the 75th anniversary of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066, which authorized the internment of Japanese Americans on the West Coast.
In the weeks leading up to the executive order — shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor — anti-Japanese sentiment reached a fever pitch. So-called “enemy aliens” were forced to register with local authorities and turn over radios, flashlights, and anything else that could be used as a signaling device.
Roy Ebihara was 8 years old at the time living in Clovis, New Mexico with his family. He watched as his town grew increasingly hostile towards its small Japanese community. His father had to stop working as a machinist at the Santa Fe Railroad Company and the children were pulled out of school under threats of violence.
Several weeks before the executive order was issued, Roy’s family became among the first to be forcibly removed from their home and taken to a detention center.
Roy’s wife, Aiko, was also interned along with her family.
At StoryCorps, Roy and Aiko reflect on the days leading up to their internments.
Originally aired February 17, 2017, on NPR’s Morning Edition.