I’ve been re-reading the book FAREWELL TO MANZANAR by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston about her Japanese-American family’s internment at Manzanar concentration camp in California during World War II. She and her siblings were American born, but thrown into the camp anyway, simply because of their ancestry, and the fact that they looked like the enemy. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, all people of Japanese birth or descent living on the West Coast were rounded up and locked in camps behind barbed wire simply because Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his wartime cabinet were afraid some of them could be spies, if you can believe it.
Jeanne was seven years old. What kind of a spy did they think she could possibly be?
Jeanne’s brother was in one of the camp swing bands. One of my favorite parts of the story is that his band would play the music of – but not sing the lyrics to – one of America’s hit songs of the day, Don’t Fence Me In.
Well, I would have sung it, if I’d been in such a situation, and at the top of my considerable lungs, too!
Here’s Roy Rogers singing it in STAGE DOOR CANTEEN: