Heidi Sakazaki was born in Clarksburg, California in 1928. Heidi’s parents were hard working seed farmers in Clarksburg. Heidi attended the West Sacramento Grammar School. When the United States entered WWII and President Roosevelt signs Executive Order 9066, the Sakazaki family was sent directly to the Tule Lake Internment Camp in northern California. While confined in camp, Heidi graduated from Tri-State High School at the age of 17. When the family was able to leave camp, they were offered work in Utah and told they could make a good salary doing cannery work. The work was hard and back breaking; the pay was poor. Heidi and her sister traveled to Ogden, Utah, and took jobs doing domestic work. The two sisters traveled to Los Angeles where they found work with the Hollywood stars. Heidi found herself being treated like a daughter by actor Andy Williams, Kay Thompson (singer, dancer and choreographer), Jerry Wald (producer/director/Oscar winner).
Eventually, Heidi returned to Sacramento and joined the staff of the California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board/Court. She retired as a Staff Services Manager in 1994. Heidi continues to volunteer for the Buddhist Church, the Florin JACL, the Time of Remembrance Program and many other groups as she is needed.
Note: To listen to a specific clip, move the slider on the video to the designated clip time listed below.
00:00 – Introduction
00:18 – Clip 1
Parents reaction to Pearl Harbor. She burned all items from Japan, she didn’t want to seem patriotic to Japan.
01:30 – Clip 2
Parents had to abandon their crop, bank accounts were frozen, sell everything- $5 for his car.
02:49 – Clip 3
Neighbor (a teacher) in hometown of Clarksburg was called a Communist for helping Heidi’s family.
04:08 – Clip 4
Heidi expresses how The United States was a very powerful country, and yet in her words “Our Constitution was violated. It is important that our constitution is upheld, and even though it is a piece of paper, it is up to all of us to uphold it.”
05:41 – Clip 5
What happened when she and her family left the camp.
06:23 – Clip 6
The family was offered a job in a canning company, and they pealed tomatoes for $.10 a bucket and that it was very difficult work. To make a bucket took all day. She felt it was useless.
07:03 – Clip 7
Importance for people to know about the internment camps and a race can be targeted. It was just like when 9/11 happened, our country started targeting Muslims, and we as people needed to make sure that this didn’t happen again.
Video production provided by the Sacramento Educational Cable Consortium – http://www.secctv.org