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Office of the President

For Immediate Release November 9, 2000


Earlier today, America honored the patriotism of Japanese Americans during World War II with the dedication of the National Japanese American Memorial in the nation's capital. Attorney General Janet Reno and Commerce Secretary Norman Mineta joined distinguished members of the Japanese American community and Americans of all ancestries in reminding us of a time when this county lost sight of the very foundations of democracy it was defending abroad.

This nation must never forget the difficult lessons of the Japanese American internment camps during World War II, and the inspirational lessons of patriotism in the face of that injustice.

Today, I have directed the Secretary of the Interior to develop recommendations to preserve existing internment sites and provide for their public interpretation. In addition, I am signing legislation designating the United States Federal Courthouse for the Western District of Washington in Seattle, Washington, as the William Kenzo Nakamura United States Courthouse. William Nakamura was a student at the University of Washington when he and 120,000 other Japanese Americans were removed from their communities and forced into internment camps. Despite the injustice of his internment, William Kenzo Nakamura volunteered for the U.S. Army and died fighting for this country in Italy on July 4, 1944. In June of this year, I posthumously awarded him the Medal of Honor in recognition of his courage and heroism.

As the nation prepares to honor its veterans, it is my hope that the unique contribution of Japanese Americans to preserving this Nation's freedom and democracy remains a vital part of America's history.