Gaman: FDR and the Japanese American Internment Camps
February 19, 2010
On February 19, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which led to the creation of internment camps for Japanese Americans during World War II. The order—a direct result of the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor the previous December, which killed thousands of Americans—placed 120,000 Japanese Americans in internment camps. These included three generations: issei (immigrants born in Japan), nisei (first generation, born American), and sansei (the children of nisei). The entire Japanese population living on the West Coast was affected. When relocating, families could take from their homes only what they could carry, leaving behind all that they had built in the United States.On March 5, the Smithsonian American Art Museum's Renwick Gallery will open the exhibition, The Art of Gaman: Arts and Crafts from the Japanese Internment Camps, 1942–1946. The Japanese word gaman (pronounced gah-mon) is defined as "the ability to endure the seemingly unbearable with patience and dignity." The exhibition will display more than 120 items created in the internment camps, ranging from furniture made from scrap lumber to baskets made from twine.
It’s hard to fathom the world as it was more than sixty years ago. The Renwick exhibition shows examples of the resilient and creative human spirit during a time of great limitation and sacrifice.
- Gaman, Japanese American Internment Camps, Executive Order 9066, FDR, Renwick Gallery, American Art,
Smithsonian American Art Museum
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