Marielle Tsukamoto

Marielle shares her perspective on the impact of the internment years on her family and the Florin community during and following the war years – along with memories of “unsung heroes.”

Video Timeline

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
Marielle remembers pre Pearl Harbor tensions and the day of Pearl Harbor. She briefly shares the experience of receiving the news while at church. She retells a story of a stroke victim who committed suicide, who was feeling guilty after being interrogated. Marielle recalls the candlelight service on December 7th and the religious message from the pastor. Her mother helped the community understand the details of Executive Order 9066. Her mother had to deliver the message to community member that her disabled son would not be permitted in a camp. Sadly, the son later died while his mother was incarcerated.

06:32 – Clip 2
Marielle states that there were many rumors after Pearl Harbor. Her grandfather burned and buried precious family heirlooms from Japan so as not to be perceived as loyal to Japan. Marielle talks about the land and property issues. Decisions had to be made quickly. Tsukamoto’s asked their trustworthy friend, Bob Fletcher, to care for their family farm.

10:53 – Clip 3
Marielle comforts her grandmother crying in family garden. Conditions in camp were very harsh and the death rate was higher in camps. Farmers had to leave at peak of season, many lost their homes and property.

16:16 – Clip 4
Train ride to Fresno was long and difficult. Lucky to be housed in temporary barracks, her family avoided living in horse stables. Fresno’s weather was extremely hot with no shade at camp. No one knew their destination on the night train ride; the public was unaware that Japanese were being moved through the area.

20:33 – Clip 5
Citizens of Arkansas were jealous of the Jerome compound’s amenities. Camp life was hot and humid with many snakes and bugs. Marielle describes camp life; bathrooms, mess hall, no sidewalks, no streetlights all made for horrible living conditions. Her greatest fear was getting lost.

28:00 – Clip 6
Schools were open for older students first because there were very few teachers initially. Marielle shares memories of goat milk in camp. Her father was in charge of the rec hall for block nine. Her mother was in charge of YWCA program for the whole month.

30:37 – Clip 7
The 442 was an all Japanese segregated unit. This unit included Hawaiian Japanese and Californian Japanese. Initially, there was a clash between their two cultures. The 442 had a 319% casualty rate and one of the most highly decorated unit in American history.

37:52 – Clip 8
442nd military unit created. Discord between Hawaiian and mainland Japanese American soldiers and how they become one unit. Soldiers’ realization that their parents were not in a camp, but in a prison. Merging of the 442nd and the 100th battalion. The many battles and hardships they faced as well as how they distinguished themselves as the most decorated battalion in U.S. history.

47:06 – Clip 9
Japanese Americans and their loyalty in camp. Dissention between the Japanese Americans in camp.

56:27 – Clip 10
Going back to Florin, California after the war ended. Marielle’s family was able to go back to their farm and their family supported other Japanese American families who needed assistance.

59:02 – Clip 11
Marielle shares lessons we can take from history and her take on how Americans should speak out so that we don’t repeat history.

1:02:25 – Clip 12
Marielle talks about the people that helped. The upstanders.

1:07:42 – Credits

Photo Gallery

Primary source images to accompany Marielle Tsukamoto’s story. Images provided by Marielle Tsukamoto – Elk Grove Unified School District.

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