Order 9066 is a podcast that I’m genuinely shocked exists. I listened to Slow Burn about Watergate, to Stuff You Missed in History Class, and to Bowery Boys. History podcasts are my jam! But never, ever did I think anyone would care enough to make a podcast about Japanese Internment.
Japanese Internment, or incarceration, as described in the podcast, was a time in American history when America forcibly removed upwards of 110,000 Japanese and Japanese-Americans from their homes and placed them in barracks in the middle of the desert.
Never heard of it? That’s okay; it was nothing more than a paragraph in my 6th-grade history book. The only reason I know about it is because I’m of Japanese descent. My own family has a history with the camps, as featured in Issue 003 of Hapa Mag. In fact, my side hustle is performing a one-woman show to elementary students about Internment. Most people I speak to don’t know about. Most people don’t want to talk about it. Some people want to bring back the practice. That’s right, Carl Higbie, I didn’t forget you.
But now, there’s a podcast. Not a one-off episode, but a whole podcast. A podcast that remembers what America did to its own people during WWII. Named for the executive order, signed by FDR, that gave the army permission to “relocate” the Japanese in America, the podcast does a deep dive into the history of what caused Internment, why it happened, and how it was rolled. There’s so much more to it than, “Well, Pearl Habor was attacked.”
It’s a well-produced, well-researched podcast. It should be, considering it’s produced by American Public Media and the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. Pulling from records from The Densho Project, the podcast uses the stories of real survivors, often told in their own voices. And the podcast is narrated by Broadway singer Pat Suzuki and Avatar: The Last Airbender actor Sab Shimono, both of whom were interned as children.
Though there have only been two episodes released so far, I feel a kinship with the people. It’s like getting a chance to ask my grandfather what happened, as he died when I was young. That being said, most people don’t talk about it, as Sab relates in his story about his family in the camps. They never talked about it once they were released. But now, through the intimacy of a podcast, we get to know about a harrowing time in his family history. Each week will feature more stories, just like Sab’s.
If you’re a history buff, this podcast is perfect. It’s a thorough, thoughtful look at a piece of history often ignored and forgotten. If you’ve never heard of the history of internment, there’s truly no better time like the present. If you know the history, hear it from the people who lived through it. And if you’ve had your own family go through internment, take a look at the Order 9066 website. They’ve got a submitted objects suggestion; maybe submit your own!
We should never forget the darkest parts of our history, lest we’re doomed to repeat it. So take the time, and take a listen to Order 9066.
Hearing stories of internment from real-life survivors. I’m most excited for Pat Suzuki, the actress from the Broadway run of Flower Drum Song.
Guys, the podcast is from the Smithsonian! What more do you want?!