What are you doing this February 19th? The Day of Remembrance is an important time for us as community members to reflect on our unique history and make connections to our endeavors in the present.

For most folks reading this article, you’ve attended a Day of Remembrance program at some point in your life. For some of us, our first experience with DOR was during our time in collegiate organizations like the Nikkei Student Union. Maybe for others, you had your experience when working in the community. Now, in all honesty, DOR programs aren’t filled with the pomp and circumstance that we find at events. When comparing a Day of Remembrance program with an event like Obon, attendance figures alone can easily indicate which event people find more engaging and exciting.

But, all that said, you should still find a DOR program nearby and attend. Below are five reasons you should attend. As we cover each one, I’ll give an example from an upcoming DOR hosted by the Gardena Valley Japanese Cultural Institute (GVJCI) to illustrate each point.

It’s a Renewal of Commitment

Sure, I’ve read my fair share of papers, retrospectives on the incarceration and have watched countless numbers of documentaries and independent films on the subject, but I still walk away from every DOR I’ve attended with a renewed sense of commitment to our community’s future. 

Think of it like this: how many times have you shared the same story of a key memory with your friends? The story is known, but the emotional impact after telling it is still there. I think of DOR in the same way, when I hear the stories and see the images, the emotional impact of our community’s experience is a helpful reminder of why our time, donations, and treasures are all worth it. 

GVJCI’s Day of Remembrance hopes to share the story of incarceration, and include stories that may not always be shared in this narrative. As our community STILL continues to heal, we have shared themes on generational trauma (Children of the Camps), Incarceration in Hawai’i, and this year’s theme the story of Japanese Latin Americans.

It’s Our Community’s Commemorative Day

I see DOR as the one collective day that our entire Japanese American community can come together to reflect and think about the future. So many other events are bound by organizational ties, geographic location, or religious affiliation, but DOR has become ubiquitous.

Each year, GVJCI works with other organizations, both locally and nationally to share other Day of Remembrance and related activities or organizations. If interested in connecting with us, please email us at dor@jci-gardena.org.

It’s Inherently Intergenerational

For so many of us as readers and contributors to this publication, our passion is to develop relationships between generations. As generations share, learn and ultimately work with each other, our organizations build the continuity to evolve from the past into the present. 

One of the purposes of DOR is to pass the stories from one generation to the next. As we reflect on the experiences of the past, we’re inspired and motivated to think about how they relate to the present. It brings the generations together.

The GVJCI has an intergenerational committee that puts on this event every year. In addition to the leadership being diverse in age, they also strive to include younger generations in the program itself, and in the action items we include. In 2020, we worked with Tsuru for Solidarity to raise awareness on different forms of organizing, healing, and participation in social justice advocacy.

It Presents New Causes

Nearly all DOR programs are intentional about finding important connections and link to events int he present. After the attacks of 9/11, it’s part of our community’s pride that we stood in solidarity with our friends in the American Muslim community to call out racism, policing, and xenophobia happening to their community. Day of Remembrance was a key event where speakers, panels, and coalitions helped to bond our communities together. 

GVJCI’s Day of Remembrance event has always had a focus and a call to action. In 2022, we shared how art was an act of resilience for those in camp. We explored traditional arts, big band music, and even comedy as a form of fortitude during incarceration.  To see the full presentation you can view the youtube video HERE or visit all the forms of art expired in this five day DOR event HERE.

It’s Highly Accessible

For colleges, most campuses with a local Nikkei Student Union are hosting Day of Remembrance events, whether you’re in Denver, Seattle, Chicago, or Los Angeles, you can find a local DOR to attend. They’re open to everyone and even if they’re not close in proximity, many will have a virtual component. 

Day of Remembrance has been virtual as a one day live stream. These live streams have been archived adn can be viewed on YouTube HERE. The GVJCI has also done a five day presentation, where each day is a website dedicated to a topic in relation to our theme. You can check out our 2021 Collections site with links to the CSUDH Japanese American archive, the Densho Campu podcast, our tribute to Lane Hirabayashi, and our Tanka poetry collection.

More Details on the Gardena Valley Japanese Cultural Institute Day of Remembrance Program.

This year, the theme for the Gardena Valley Japanese Cultural Institute’s 2023 Day of Remembrance will be “Campaign For Justice: The Japanese Latin American Story,” highlighting the hidden history and stories of Japanese Latin Americans who were abducted from their home countries and wrongfully incarcerated in the United States during World War II. In a virtual live program on Saturday, February 25, 2023, the GVJCI will feature the 2004 short film, Hidden Internment: The Art Shibayama Story followed by a discussion with a panel of experts featuring Director of the Japanese Peruvian Oral History Project and coordinator for Campaign For Justice: Redress Now For Japanese Latin Americans, Grace Shimizu, University of Maryland professor and Co-President of the Board of the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, Phil Nash, and former Japanese Peruvian incarceree at Crystal City, Chieko Kamisato. We hope the community will come away with a stronger understanding of the meaning of justice, the repercussions of ongoing discriminatory action by the government, and what people can do to support the cause and fight for redress. To register for this online event, please visit the GVJCI website at www.jci-gardena.org/dor-2023.

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