Lillian Matsumoto, from “Memories of the Children’s Village at Manzanar,” public program, January 14, 2007, Japanese American National Museum
I was in the first bus with the girls and the small children. And we entertained— The children got up and we thought it was nice and they were going to a picnic. And so they got up, sang songs and told little jokes and stories. I remember one little girl, and maybe many of you have heard this story, but she was probably about four years old. She got up and said, “I will sing.” And what she sang was “God Bless America.” She only knew the first few sentences, but a young soldier that was on guard sitting in the bus, in the front seat, shed tears when he heard this little four-year-old sing “God Bless America.” I think that was one most important things I remember of that trip.
This object is part of the story Orphans, which is about Identity.
Identity, Manzanar, Orphans
The War Relocation Authority (WRA) appointed Harry and Lillian Matsumoto, husband and wife, as superintendent and assistant superintendent of the Manzanar Children’s Village. Before departing for Manzanar, the Matsumotos had worked at the Shonien, a Japanese American children’s home in Los Angeles, alongside the Shonien’s founder, Rokuichi Kusumoto. The State of California Department of Welfare recommended to the WRA that the Matsumotos, who had graduate-level education in business (Harry) and social welfare (Lillian), be placed in charge of the children at camp.
In this video clip, Lillian Matsumoto remembers taking the bus to Manzanar with the orphans. Watch the clip to hear her tell you which song one of the girls sang.