Japanese American children
This photo from 1942 shows children pledging allegiance to the flag at Raphael Weill Public School in San Francisco. (Photo by Dorothea Lange/courtesy of the National Archives)

The Philomath Museum is currently hosting the Smithsonian poster exhibition, “Righting a Wrong: Japanese Americans and World War II.” The collection will remain in place until the end of December.

The exhibition examines the complicated history and impact of Executive Order 9066 that led to the incarceration of Japanese Americans following the attack on Pearl Harbor.

“Embracing themes that are as relevant today as they were 75 years ago, ‘Righting a Wrong’ looks at immigration, prejudice, civil rights, heroism and what it means to be an American,” states a press release on the event. “The poster exhibition centers around eight core questions that encourage viewers to engage in a dialogue about how this happened, and could it happen again.”

Following Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which sent 75,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry and 45,000 Japanese nationals to incarceration camps.

They were transported far from their homes to 10 large, barbed wire-enclosed incarceration camps and dozens of other installations scattered west of the Mississippi from March 1942 to March 1946. Young and old lived crowded together in the hastily built camps, endured poor living conditions and were under the constant watch of military guards. Meanwhile, brave Japanese American men risked their lives fighting for the United States.

Some 40 years later, members of the Japanese American community led the nation to confront the wrong it had done. The U.S. Congress formally recognized that the rights of the Japanese American community had been violated, and President Ronald Reagan signed the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, providing an apology and restitution to the living Japanese Americans who were incarcerated during World War II.

The exhibition also includes colorful and diverse kimono from the private collection of Corvallis artist Karen Illman Miller.

“Righting a Wrong: Japanese Americans and World War II” was developed by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History and adapted for travel by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service. The traveling exhibition and poster exhibition are supported by a grant from the Asian Pacific American Initiatives Pool, administered by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center; the Terasaki Family Foundation and C.L. Ehn & Ginger Lew.

The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Masks are required for entry. Admission is free.