War Relocation Center or Interment Camp – What’s in a Name?

When I returned home (to Arkansas) in March of 2013, I purposely drove to a little town called Jerome (which only has a population of 46 people according to the sign I photographed) just outside of Dermott; in order to take a photo of a particular sign that I saw when my parents had to pick me up in Baton Rogue, Louisiana when I was visiting back in November of 2010.

One of my intentions during that trip was to drive through the delta, so that I could take pictures of cypress trees and old houses along the way. Well, while we were driving I recall looking out the window at the landscapes in the dark and saw a sign that read, Jerome Pop. 46 and I told myself then that I would return to take a pic, because I found it odd that they had made a sign post for such a little town.

~Jerome, Arkansas~
~Jerome, Arkansas~

However, after I drove down there in the spring of 2013 and walked around I learned that – that tiny town was once the site where a Japanese interment camp was located – once upon a time.

Interesting name don't you think...'War Relocation Center' instead of interment camp.
Interesting name don’t you think…’War Relocation Center’ instead of interment camp.

The only thing that remains is a monument (placed in the front of someones yard, letting me know that they most likely owned the land back then or perhaps they bought it after the camp was torn down) that was constructed to inform passersby of what took place there along with a tall smoke stack out in the middle of the field.

The monument testifying in stone to what took place on this fertile land not so long ago.
The monument testifying in stone to what took place on this fertile land not so long ago.

Even as a child, I can recall my Pawpaw telling us that he’d seen those camps when he went fishing in his younger days, before he went off to fight in WWII.

We spent many summers at Lake Chicot..."the largest oxbow lake in North America and the largest natural lake in Arkansas, formed 600 years ago. It's a run off from the Mississippi River".
We spent many summers at Lake Chicot…”the largest oxbow lake in North America and the largest natural lake in Arkansas, formed 600 years ago. It’s a run off from the Mississippi River”.

Fast forward to this past summer…I was reminded once again of the horrors that took place not only here, but around the nation in desolate places where these structures were built to house innocent people…citizens of the United States of America. One such person, was George Takei. I learned of his experience via my newsfeed on Facebook due to one of the groups that I subscribe to on that platform.

“During my childhood, my family and I were interned in Rohwer prison camp in the swamps of southeast Arkansas because we looked like the people who bombed Pearl Harbor. My friends at Arkansas State Univ. are working hard to make sure history is not forgotten. They just launched a wonderful website on Rohwer; I’m honored to provide an audio intro.” –(George Takei)

“As a group, these US citizens were labeled by their government as ” enemy non-aliens”…”What’s a non-alien? Thats a citizen. They couldn’t even call us citizens then, we were “enemy non-aliens”. Why? Because, of this we were taken to the horse stables.” –(George Takei recalls the day his family was taken to live in Japanese American internment camps and life as an “Enemy Non-Alien.” Discover more about his story and triumph on television in PIONEERS OF TELEVISION “Breaking Barriers,”)

This museum is located in McGhee, Arkansas just off of highway 65 down the road from my great aunt & uncles' house.
This museum is located in McGhee, Arkansas just off of highway 65 down the road from my great aunt & uncles’ house.

This speech featured in the film adaptation of the book, Snow Falling on Cedars – given by actor, Max von Sydow (playing the role of Nels Gudmundsson) is beyond powerful!

“I was mortified by the ugly chapter in our nations past when American’s of Japanese decent were herded into internment camps. Their treatment was deplorable. I was saddened by the continued prejudice toward the Japanese–even well after the war.” –(Cynthia K. Robertson, Book Review of Snow Falling on Cedars by, David Guterson)

Sadly, we find ourselves revisiting these types of atrocities due to the current level of public opinion that’s being propagated by some in positions of power – yet again…believe me when I say, there are some things one or shall I say we as a nation should never forget.

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