A Visit to Manzanar War Relocation Camp and an Unlikely Love Story
Please meet Kimi and Art Ogami. They have been married over 60 years and met through a most unique set of circumstances. Valerie Mann and I were fortunate to meet them both at the 44th Annual Manzanar Pilgrimage .
Art was one of hundreds of thousands of Japanese Amaericans, citizens sent to ‘camps’ during WWII. He was a 20 year old American born man at the time, and the only thing he had to say about it was…”We did everything the government asked.”
After the war, he traveled to Japan where he renounced his American citizenship in order to work as a civilian military worker…in the American military hospital. There he was introduced to Kimi, a typist who worked with his sister.
Kimi told us the town they lived in was scheduled to be the place where our second atomic bomb was dropped, but due to a lot of moisture in the air, the military command feared the spread of radiation around the world, so sent the planes on to Nagasaki.
So, in the midst of war and injustice, they met. Many things happened since… They married. Art regained his citizenship and returned to America. Art and Kimi had three children, worked hard, and are so proud to have three houses, one to leave to each of their children. Actually we learned very little about his time in the camp. They spoke of the positive things, happiness, family, prosperity. They never said one bad thing about a government that let Arts’s family down so badly and nearly killed Kimi and everyone she knew. They were also very happy to share their love story, thrilling our romance writers’ hearts.
Their dignity and grace is nearly impossible to convey.
Art is 92 and Kimi must be close to that. They do not look their age, as you can see despite my poor photography. And they have based their life together on the good things. So many times it’s easy to dwell on the bad, but they reminded me it is possible to surpass injustice. To succeed and find happiness. To be married over 60 years and smie at inside jokes.
Manzanar and some of the other camps where Japanese Americans were imprisoned are still around, and if you have the opportunity to visit, I highly recommend you do so. They are reminders of a mistake we as Americans do not want to repeat. They also hold they spirit of a people who built basketball courts, wading pools, grew orchards and continued to live and love…even when the country they respected treated them so poorly. The ManazanarCommitte site has a great deal of informaton to offer.