Sarah Yomogi (Okada) Sato
Jerome - Tule Lake

Brick #787   Wall Location  Column: 38   Row: 22

I am Sarah Yomogi Sato and I was born on February 5, 1925 in Lima, Peru. In spite of being born in a foreign country, I am a United States citizen because both of my parents were U.S citizens having been born in Hawaii which made me legally eligible to claim U.S. citizenship. As a side note, my father, Moritake Okada, had difficulty proving his U.S. citizenship because he was not originally issued a birth certificate when he was born on June 10, 1899 in Waimanalo, Hawaii. However, thankfully, my aunt, Helen Tokuda, was able to locate two witnesses to confirm his birth and, subsequently, my dad was issued a U.S. birth certificate.

During WWII, my dad was arrested by the U.S. Government in October 1942 from his work as a stevedore foreman for the Matson Navigation Co in Honolulu. Our family learned of his arrest from his co-worker and did not have a chance to talk to him. We were deeply worried about his well-being, so I went to the Dillingham Building in Honolulu for a visitation permit and was denied by the commanding officer. So I held a one-girl sit-down strike in front of the officer’s door until the officer relented and gave me a permit for my mom to visit my dad. I was really scared and even today I wonder where I got the courage and guts as a 17-year old to challenge the authorities. My dad was told that he was being sent to an internment camp on the mainland either alone or with the family. He chose to have the family go with him, but I refused to go along since I was in my senior year at McKinley High School in Honolulu and wanted to graduate with my friends. Unfortunately, for me, I was 1 ½ months short of being of the legal adult age of 18 years and my parents absolutely refused to sign the guardianship papers over to my mom’s siblings. Consequently, I was forced to be shipped and interned along with my family at Jerome Concentration Camp in Denson, Arkansas. At Jerome, we had to answer many questions, including #27 which asked if you are loyal to the U.S., and #28 which asked if you would serve in the U.S. Army. I adamantly told my dad to answer as I did, since I was still upset that my dad did not sign the guardianship papers. So, for #27, my dad and I wrote, “Give us the reason for interning us,” and for #28, we wrote, “Give us the answer to #27 and we will answer #28.” For this we were unfairly classified as being disloyal and sent to Tule Lake Concentration Camp, in California.

I will always remember dad's wise advice that one can oppose disagreeing with government, but not to be killed as this will not give us to continue our belief.

  • Jerome
  • Tule Lake