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Anna Webb: Boise ceremony will mark Idaho’s Japanese internment camp era

President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 in 1942 in the wake of Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor. The order, intended as a security measure, sent more than 100,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry into internment camps, most in the Western U.S. Among the camps was the Hunt, or Minidoka, camp near Jerome — now the Minidoka National Historic Site.

The Boise Valley Japanese American Citizens League, which has members in Idaho and Oregon, will mark the anniversary of Executive Order 9066 with a public ceremony in the governor’s office at the Idaho State Capitol with Lt. Gov. Brad Little. The ceremony will take place at 1:30 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 15.

“While their families were interned throughout the West, Japanese-Americans in my own community were some of the most decorated soldiers in the European Theater during World War II. The Day of Remembrance ensures that this and future generations do not forget the Americans denied their constitutional liberties, and risk repeating these hasty actions,” said Little.

League members, an official from the Minidoka site and local educators will also participate in the Feb. 15 ceremony.

“The history has to be remembered,” said Micki Kawakami, a member of the Citizens League who lives in Nampa.

That history is personal for Kawakami. Her parents were relocated from Hood River. Ore., where they were in the orchard business, to the Tule Lake camp in California. Kawakami wasn’t born yet, but her older siblings, a baby brother and a 1-year-old sister, were also interned. Two of her uncles joined the war effort after being relocated to the Heart Mountain camp in Wyoming. In 2014, she participated in the annual pilgrimage to Heart Mountain and found her family’s names on the military honor roll. An annual pilgrimage also takes place each summer to the Minidoka National Historic Site.

Like many descendants of internees, Kawakami said that she only learned about her family’s history in bits and pieces, and not until her teens. Her older relatives didn’t speak a lot about the camps. This common phenomenon makes it all the more urgent, Kawakami said, to preserve stories from that era and to remember those times through events like the upcoming ceremony.

Stefanie Shebley teaches 6th grade English at Sage International School in Boise. She will attend the ceremony on the 15th and tell attendees about why she teaches the history of the internment era to her students. Like so many Treasure Valley residents, she grew up learning very little about the internment camps and Idaho’s role in the story despite the proximity of the Minidoka camp. Her lesson, through which she aims to correct that, focuses on the popular book “Farewell to Manzanar,” one of the seminal novels about life in the camps by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston and James D. Houston.

Shebley takes her students each year to visit the Minidoka camp to get a sense of what conditions were like for the more than 9,000 people who lived there between 1942 and 1945. A few buildings, including a barracks, a former mess hall and outbuildings, remain at the site along with a guard tower and historic interpretive panels.

“Middle schoolers have a strong sense of justice and of what they consider right and wrong. This is a great age to learn this history,” said Shebley, “to teach character traits like open mindedness and respect for people.”

She also asks students to make their own ties between the internment camp era and current happenings when stereotyping groups of people can lead to dangerous misunderstandings, she said.

Spring is on the way! Boise City offers free yard and garden classes

Topics range from grapes to roses, from trees to turf grass. All classes are from 6 to 8:30 p.m. (except tree pruning on March 12, from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.). Classes meet at the Boise Public Library Hayes Auditorium, 715 S. Capitol Blvd. Here’s the line-up:

Feb. 10: Grape growing taught by Danny Trevett, horticulture/maintenance manager of Kathryn Albertson Park. Learn about growing grapes in Idaho, including how to plant, prune and harvest your grapes and handle insects and diseases.

Feb. 17: Organic gardening taught by Naomi Davenport, Boise Urban Garden School. Topics will include organic garden planning, plant selection and care and water, weed and pest management.

Feb. 24 and 25: Fruit tree pruning taught by arborist and manager of the Laura Moore Cunningham City Arboretum, Matt Perkins. The city will offer this class on both nights because of its popularity. Attendees should register for one of the two classes by calling 208-608-7680.

March 2: Tree biology taught by Gary Moen, arborist and Boise State University professor emeritus. Learn how a tree works from its roots to its leaves and everything in between.

March 9 and 12: Tree pruning taught by Dennis Matlock, arborist. Learn the correct way to make a pruning cut, the tree’s response to the cuts you make and how to prune for the long-term health and beauty of your trees. Register for one of the two dates by calling 208-608-7680.

March 16: Tree selection and planting taught by Ryan Rodgers, arborist. Planting incorrectly is one of the most common reasons for tree failure. Learn how to do it right.

March 23: Tree problems taught by Debbie Cook, arborist. Learn about some of the most common problems found on trees in the Treasure Valley, including insects, diseases and problems aspiring tree keepers cause by incorrect cultural practices.

March 30: Lawn and irrigation taught by Dave Beck, lawn maintenance specialist and Dan Falconer, irrigation mechanic. Topics related to growing a beautiful lawn, including turf grass growth, physiology, cultivation strategies and more for different grass types common in Idaho. Discuss efficient irrigation types, plus sprinkler maintenance and design.

April 6: Roses and landscape taught by Andrea Wurtz, master gardener, and Toby Norton, landscape architect. From proper pruning techniques to selecting the right rose for the right spot, this class will review the steps to produce beautiful, healthy roses.

Garden fans can also register online through Boise Parks and Rec. Click on the “Register for Classes” tab..

Lenten Lunches begin at St. Michael’s Cathedral

The congregation hosts the annual luncheons from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. each Friday from Feb. 12 through March 18 at St. Michael’s Cathedral, 518 N. 8th St. in Boise.

Lunch costs $7, with $2.50 extra for pie. All proceeds benefit programs at St. Michael’s.

Love ‘Movies Under the Stars’? Help choose this summer’s films

The city of Boise is hosting Movies Under the Stars at Boise parks this summer and wants the public to help decide the programs. Are you a Cinderella person or a Minion? Are you a Good Dinosaur or a member of Monkey Kingdom? Better cast your vote. Do that online through Feb. 12 at 5 p.m.

The first screening will be on June 18 at Julia Davis Park. The free series runs through Sept. 3.

Need help with taxes? Check out

United Way wants to get the word out about MyFreeTaxes, a service that provides free federal and state tax preparation and filing assistance online to individuals and families with household incomes of $62,000 or less in 2015. Taxpayers can use to file taxes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia for those who qualify. The program gets support from the Walmart Foundation and several other partners, including the United Way, state and local agencies.

The site offers free English and Spanish tax support. The online tool allows taxpayers to self-file for free using a simple step-by-step process that includes free telephone, email and online chat support from IRS-certified specialists.

Find more information about other free tax help resources on the Idaho State Tax Commission’s website at or call the Idaho Careline at 2-1-1.

Those seeking assistance in filing online may visit a volunteer income tax assistance (VITA) site. For information about locations and hours, visit the Idaho State Tax Commission’s website at or call the Idaho Careline by dialing 2-1-1.

‘Positively Baby Shower’ needs help finding mothers in need

The baby shower will take place from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on May 7 at The Powerhouse Event Center in Boise. Organizers are asking the public for its help to find 50 expecting or new mothers who would benefit from a collection of gifts.

Email organizers at Write “Positively Baby Shower” in the subject line and explain briefly why you are making your nomination. Include your contact information. Nominees must be between 20 weeks pregnant or four months postpartum on May 7. The event will include lunch and games.

Organizers are also looking for additional sponsors. Email them at the above address for more information.

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