I was taking an easy hike along the ridge overlooking Santa Fe when I stumbled upon an interesting place: a memorial site telling of the internment camp that used to occupy the beautiful park now spreading before me. http://www.manymountains.org/santa_fe_marker/020420.sfemonument.php Taken aback, I just stood there contemplating the fate of so many innocent Japanese men after the Pearl Harbor attack in December 1941,
A Japanese woman walked up to me, staring at the plaque for what seemed an eternity. Then she turned to me with a smile, saying hello. A lengthy chat ensued in which we both learned that we had one thing in common. Like me, she had recently written a book. Not a memoir but The Red Kimono, a historical novel, chronicling the heart-warming and heart-breaking account of a Japanese American family whose members ended up in three different internment camps.
In the course of our conversation author Jan Morrill, www.janmorrill.com pointed out that about 120,000 people of Japanese decent, many of them Japanese Americans on the West Coast were uprooted and separated, as World War II was about to unleash evil across the lands. Husbands, fathers, men from all walks of life ended up in this maximum security camp in New Mexico’s high desert. Those who arrived here for an uncertain future were classified as “The dangerous ones.” Doctors, lawyers, bankers, ministers or anyone that could be considered a community leader and pose a threat to the US government.
That’s what happened to Papa, one of the main characters in The Red Kimono, while his family was shipped half way across the nation to Rohwer in Arkansas.
Told through the eyes of eight-year old Japanese girl Sachi, The Red Kimono is a poignant portrayal of the bitter fate of the Kimura family trying to find meaning, hope, and identity through one of the darkest periods in American history.