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A Single Tear

“No! I won’t go!”
That cry rang through our house that day. It was March 23, 1942. My youngest brother, Jimmy, didn’t understand why we were packing. He didn’t understand that the government, claiming that it was only protecting the public, had given us 48 hours to pack up all we could carry and leave. They had said it would only be temporary, that we would see our Los Angeles home again. That was three years ago, and we are not home yet.
We took out suitcases and carpetbags. Everything we could fit in them, we took. Everything we couldn’t, we left behind. Father was shocked. After all the years he and Mother had spent becoming citizens, we still had to leave. Mother was doing so much, comforting my siblings. She was also busy packing, keeping as many family relics as she could. We couldn’t take everything. But she didn’t shed a single tear.
Neither did I. We Japanese are strong. We are proud. They could make us give up our land and our property but they could not make us give up our dignity.
So two days later, when they came to collect us, we stood tall. Father carried most of the baggage. Mother was comforting Sandi, my seven year old sister. Austin, as eldest son, also carried a lot. He was very brave for only ten years old. I, thirteen at the time, carried 4 year old Jimmy. Not one of us cried.
That night, as we came into Manzanar for the first time, and saw the rifles carried by the guards, the barbed wire fences to keep us in, and the dusty barrenness of our new home; it was hard to stay strong. I did my best to protect the little ones from the danger, but I was not as brave as my acting suggested.
Later, after we had gone to bed in the barracks we shared with two other families, I let down my pretenses. Now that everyone else had gone to sleep, I did not need to hide my weakness. As I lay in the darkness, I felt slip down my cheek a single tear.





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