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Graduation heals World War II internment wounds

Former Student Interned During WWII Graduates Honorary Graduation

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. (AP) - A California man who missed his 1942 graduation because he was locked in an internment camp for Japanese-Americans finally walked in a cap and gown last week, more than seven decades after he was pulled out of class just a month shy of his big day.

Don Miyada, now 89, joined Newport Harbor High School's 2014 graduating class on stage and received a standing ovation when he was hailed as an inaugural member of the school's hall of fame, the Los Angeles Times reported on Sunday (http://lat.ms/Tl23iJ).

Miyada was 17 when he was sent with his family and more than 17,000 other detainees to a patch of desert land near Poston, Arizona shortly after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor during World War II. A teacher later sent him a letter expressing shock that he couldn't finish high school and included a diploma - but Miyada always regretted that he missed the celebration.

In May, Miyada met Newport Harbor's principal, Sean Boulton, during a Memorial Day service at the high school and Boulton invited him to walk with the 560 seniors who would be graduating. Boulton even found a copy of the program from what would have been Miyada's graduation day in 1942.

"My name was on there," Miyada said. "I wasn't able to attend, of course, but my name was there anyway. It was very emotional."

After two years in the camp, Miyada moved to Michigan, where he was drafted. He went on to serve in the U.S. Army in Europe and then earned a doctorate in chemistry from Michigan State University. He eventually became a professor at the University of California, Irvine.

During last week's graduation ceremonies, Miyada returned the letter he had received from his teacher and thanked the teenagers who were crossing the stage with him.

"It's their time to graduate and their time of honor," he said. "I'm happy they invited me to be one of them."

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ormac123 June 22 2014 at 7:55 PM

He wasn't Japanese. He was an American.

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1 reply
MICHELLE ormac123 June 22 2014 at 8:07 PM

He is an American of Japanese descent. Here's the clue: His last name is Miyada. All Japanese Americans were moved to internment camps after the bombing at Pearl Harbor as a precaution against further attacks. It probably also saved many of their lives as people became a little edgy and prejudiced against the Japanese after Pearl Harbor. His family was obviously able to prove their allegiance to the US fairly quickly since after their release he went on to serve in the US Army during WW2. He's not bitter, no one else should be either.

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4 replies
radarmannoshoes June 22 2014 at 9:05 PM

The untold story here is some of the Japanese that were picked up would have helped Japan. Moreover, no American, except Americans that were alive at that time, have any right to condemn how Americans fought the war.

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5 replies
sutraquio June 22 2014 at 7:30 PM

A long overdue credit!

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Disculpame June 23 2014 at 12:01 AM

Not only were the Japanese Americans placed in interment camps, but their farms and businesses were stolen by White owned banks. Part of the present day White apology was $20,000 to the patriotic Japanese American for farms and businesses that were worth up to one million dollars and more. Talk about deceit, greed, and racism all wrapped up in one, by a white controlled society.

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1 reply
kcarthey Disculpame June 23 2014 at 7:14 AM

When I first got out of college I was in a management training program for a major oil company and spent a couple of months working for a man who had lost everything when he was inturned. He worked hard and made it back in another field in spades. One of the finest men I've ever known and he lives on in my heart.

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cbala June 22 2014 at 9:03 PM

Every country does/has done things that it probably is ashamed of. But the greatest thing about this country is that most often, even if it is 70 years later, we want to apologize and set things right and though we can never get that moment back, this country does its best to seek retribution. I am glad Dr. Miyada was given his special day..

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2 replies
Disculpame cbala June 23 2014 at 12:48 AM

What are you saying, "this country does its best to seek retribution"? I agree retribution was given at Nagasaki and Hiroshima for Pearl Harbor, but that has nothing to do with granting a high school degree 70 years later. You need to look up the word retribution and the meaning of the same, otherwise you sound dumb.....

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1 reply
jck01 Disculpame June 23 2014 at 8:58 AM

According to my dictionary, retribution is any kind of payback. So maybe you should look up the word. And by the way, Pearl Harbor was a military target and I have read in a number of sourvces that the Japanese did not bomb anything that was not military, at least intentionally. Hiroshima and Nagasaki were civilian targets and were acts of terrorism and that's what they were meant to be. Lucky for us that we won the war or a few of our leaders might have faced a court.

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Disculpame cbala June 23 2014 at 9:42 AM


Recompense yes, but retribution infers punishment . You must have an old dictionary...

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danton7594 June 22 2014 at 7:51 PM

What a crock of ****! Interment was a necessary precaution. Do not ask what happened to the Americans in Japan on December7, 1941

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7 replies
d1anaw June 22 2014 at 8:33 PM

America should be ashamed. 72 years too late.

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2 replies
ranger197172 d1anaw June 22 2014 at 9:42 PM

It was a necessary evil at the time. Something to be ashamed of is the Japanese that visit Pearl Harbor and are seen laughing, not showing proper respect at the memorial. Many Japanese did serve honorably in World War II for America. A country they belonged to and served honorably for.

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2 replies
mark and sheri ranger197172 June 23 2014 at 1:52 AM

It was not necessary. It was racist and a means to remove them of their property, especially their farmland. Please do some reading on the subject.

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mikesuntok ranger197172 June 23 2014 at 12:53 PM

not only did 12,000 serve admirably, they were the highest decorated regiment in the united states army. they had over 9000 casualties and had more medal of honor winners for the proportion of race that served. general eisenhower and general patton did not trust them. general mark clark (replaced patton when he was relieved of command did). one may think that 12,000 was not a big number; but, when you look at the numbers it was a staggering amount of japanese americans that were elgible to serve. and to make it even more amazing, it would be like any american that was interned as an enemy alien, then fighting for the country that imprisoned them.

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jackiecworth d1anaw June 23 2014 at 12:15 AM

You don't know what you are talking about. Not one brain cell working. Shame on you. The rest of us have nothing,NOTHING to be ashamd of.You do because of your unmitigated ignorance.

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1 reply
d1anaw jackiecworth June 23 2014 at 3:31 AM

Does your racist ignorance keep you warm at night.? I hope if we ever get into a war with a country of your family of origin, that they knock on your doorstep in the middle of the night, take all your property away from you and drop you off in the middle of the desert. And your only crime? Being a descendent of whoever we happen to be at war with at the time. But of course you are probably lily white, so you will try to "pass". Someone with the morals and ethics of a gnat would never volutarily turn herself in.

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Cindy Downing June 22 2014 at 8:02 PM

In the year 2000, Our local HS gave all WWII vets who left school for the war their diplomas. My dad was one of them...GOD BLESS AMERICA...

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bsalley June 23 2014 at 12:45 AM

I understand why the camps happened. But two years?? And the irony is that they sent him to a camp because they were Japanese born yet they drafted him into the U S Army shortly after releasing him. I find that to be a disgrace.

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1 reply
mikesuntok bsalley June 23 2014 at 12:33 PM

i'm sure you meant "japanese born" as born in america to japanese parents. most parents of course were kept from becoming american citizens because of the alien seclusion act that not only prevented citizenship; but, property rights.

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Disculpame June 22 2014 at 11:53 PM

I would have not attended. You can take that present day hs degree and use it as toilet paper for your chicken **** butt. Did they hoose-gow the Italians or the Germans in America during the same period? Talk about racism back then and still exists today, but racists are blind to it, intentionally, I believe....

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