World War II Internment

‘WE ALMOST WEPT’
Professor Yamato Ichihashi was a Respected Scholar
and Member of the Stanford Community, But That Wasn’t Enough
to Spare Him the Humiliation of Internment

By Gordon H. Chang


W

When friends came to check on Professor Yamato Ichihashi and his wife, Kei, on the evening of Dec. 7, 1941, they found his campus home on Salvatierra Street quiet and dark. There seemed to be no one home at the Victorian home where the couple had lived for 20 years. Or perhaps another explanation could be offered, perhaps they preferred the consolation of darkness on a day that had caused them such personal pain.

The next day, Professor Ichihashi ­ a Stanford alumnus and teacher for 30 years ­ peered into his classroom and asked apprehensively, “Shall I come in?” The students welcomed him into the room.

Though sympathetic to the people of his homeland, Ichihashi condemned the Japanese military for starting the conflict and began monthly purchases of hundred-dollar U.S. war bonds through the university. And despite the compassion of his students, Ichihashi, feeling betrayed and disgraced by his homeland, was too distraught to continue teaching.

He visited Edgar Eugene Robinson, the chair of the History Department, and talked about what he should do. After the meeting, Robinson wrote in his diary that Ichihashi had been “the gentleman” he always had been and that his longtime friend had seen “the death of all his hopes and his life.”

Ichihashi next went to see Stanford President Ray Lyman Wilbur and submitted his resignation. But the supportive and insistent Wilbur convinced Ichihashi to take a leave of absence instead.

As it turned out, by the spring of 1942 the federal government required Yamato and Kei Ichihashi and more than a dozen other Japanese Americans

‘We Almost Wept’ (Plain text)
WWII Internment (Adobe Acrobat format - 951k)

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NOV/DEC 1996

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