Batteries Not Included

A Visit to Manzanar War Relocation Camp and an Unlikely Love Story

Manzanar War Relocation Camp SignKimmy and Art Ogami
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.

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10 responses

  1. FYI: Art’s wife’s name is “Kimi.”

    April 30, 2013 at 10:04 am

  2. Also, we’re known as the “Manzanar Committee.” http://blog.manzanarcommittee.org

    April 30, 2013 at 10:04 am

  3. I will correct right now, thank you.

    April 30, 2013 at 10:08 am

  4. Very sweet, Kate. I love their attitude, thank you for sharing it with us.

    April 30, 2013 at 10:24 am

  5. Very nice story Kate. Glad you both got to visit there. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    April 30, 2013 at 10:43 am

  6. Jessica Subject

    I’m sure the fact that they think of all of the positive things that have happened in their lives is what keeps them going. A wonderful story! Thank you for sharing!

    April 30, 2013 at 10:47 am

  7. Thanks for stopping by!

    April 30, 2013 at 10:47 am

  8. That was my impression too, Jessica. I always feel we have the choice to choose the events we focus on in our pasts…even if it’s sometimes very hard. They are a shining example of the best of that attitude.

    April 30, 2013 at 10:49 am

  9. Wow! That’s so fascinating. I love the pride that older generations like that have. And I understand about feeling the spirits of the people. I visited Buchenwald , a German concentration camp, years ago, and I had chills all over my body the entire time I was there.
    Awesome, Kate.

    May 1, 2013 at 5:05 am

  10. My husband visited Dachau and said there weren’t even any birds there, it was the most horrid feeling place he could imagine. And Valerie and I visited the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center last year in Cincy, where they have reconstructed a cabin where slaves were held prior to being sold…and an entire floor dedicated to human slavery and trafficking in today’s world. We can’t forget what we have done, or what we are still allowing to happen.

    May 1, 2013 at 7:15 am

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