- Associated Press - Thursday, September 18, 2014

BAINBRIDGE ISLAND, Wash. (AP) - The U.S. Senate has approved a bill to rename a Bainbridge Island memorial that honors Japanese Americans forced from their homes during World War II.

The measure sponsored by U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer, a Democrat from Washington, now heads to President Barack Obama’s desk for consideration. The House passed the bill last week, and the Senate unanimously approved it Wednesday night.

The legislation adds the word “exclusion” to the official name and recognizes the site as the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial. Kilmer said groups had asked for the name change.

The bill “properly recognizes the unfair and unjust treatment of Japanese Americans during World War II,” Kilmer said on the House floor last week.

“The word ‘exclusion’ is important to completely tell the story,” said Clarence Moriwaki, president of the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial Association.

On Feb. 19, 1942, President Franklin Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which set in motion the forced exile of about 120,000 Japanese Americans.

On March 30 of that year, 227 Japanese Americans - two-thirds of them U.S. citizens - were the first to be forcibly removed from their homes by the U.S. Army and sent to internment camps.

The men, women and children boarded a ferry located at the former Eagledale ferry dock on Bainbridge Island, which is now the site of the memorial. They were taken to Seattle where they were placed on a train for a three-day ride to a relocation center at Manzanar, California.

From there, many were later transferred to the Minidoka War Relocation Center in southern Idaho, where many remained until 1945. The first Bainbridge Islanders who were incarcerated returned to the island on April 1945, according to the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Community.

Moriwaki said it’s important to remember that not everyone went to concentration camps. Some went to prisons, others were sent away to other detention centers, while others were forbidden to come back to the U.S.

“While everyone didn’t experience the sadness of being in the camps, everybody was excluded,” Moriwaki added.

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