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What Happens When Everyone Who Experienced An Event Is Gone? (2019)

Wendy Hanamura, The Internet Archive:

How do we mark an event in time? The Etruscans used the concept of saeculum, the period of time from the moment something happens until the time when everyone who experienced that event has died. For Japanese Americans who were rounded up on the West Coast, herded onto trains and buses and incarcerated in desolate camps for years, we are approaching that saeculum.

My mother, Mary Tsuchiya Hanamura, was just 14 when she was put behind barbed wire. Today, she is 91. “They are putting Felicity Huffman in jail for 14 days for her crime,” my mother said last week. “They imprisoned me for three-and-a-half years.”

I was startled by my mother’s off-hand remark. It’s incredibly rare these days to hear an honest reflection like this—so reticent is my mother to speak out and now almost all of her family and friends from that time are gone. So how do we preserve their stories, pass them on, weave them into the fabric of our collective consciousness?

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