He's 94 years old and still clearly remembers.
Tokuji Yoshihashi remembers Japan's 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor and wondering what would happen to Americans like him who looked like the enemy. He soon found out.
Exactly 75 years ago Sunday, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which paved the way for the incarceration of Yoshihashi and 120,000 other Japanese Americans in desolate camps scattered across deserts and swampland. Yoshihashi remembers his anxiety at being locked up and the shock of seeing the barbed wire and armed military guards at his camp in Gila River, Ariz.
He left camp in 1944 to fight for the country he still loved as a member of the U.S. Army's celebrated 100th Infantry Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team, a segregated unit of second-generation Japanese Americans known as Nisei. The battles were brutal — one comrade threw himself on a grenade to protect fellow soldiers in the 1945 fight to break the German Gothic Line in Italy.
But Yoshihashi still remembers, with pride, President Harry S. Truman's words to his fighting unit: "You fought not only the enemy, but you fought prejudice — and you won."