Governor Gary Herbert signed a declaration today honoring Japanese American Fred Korematsu - who was interned in the Central Utah War Relocation Center in Topaz, appealed his conviction, and fought for civil liberties for all Americans.
Korematsu was born and raised in Oakland, California, but was placed in the Topaz internment camp during World War Two. Governor Gary Herbert said his legacy ought to be remembered in Utah.
“He is a Utahn, maybe a forced Utahn, but he spent many years of his life here. It’s part of our history, we ought to understand, we ought to embrace, we ought to learn from it, and be better because of it,” said Herbert.
The Governor signed a declaration recognizing Korematsu’s efforts to appeal his conviction and to teach the next generation about civil liberties. He then shook hands with three former Topaz internees on hand for the ceremony. Alice Hirai of Ogden – who was interned as a small child with her family – told KUER it was an emotional day.
“Finally the day has come to understand the terrible mistake that our country did,” said Hirai.
The Governor declared January 30th as Fred Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the Constitution.