Two who spent childhood in internment camps say history must not repeat

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SALT LAKE CITY — In a big glass house overlooking the Utah State Capitol, Ted Nagata, 75, sits in front of his Macintosh and clicks through the scenes of his childhood. Here he is, smiling, with his sister and mother, he says. Here he is with a good friend. Here he is with his schoolmates, behind barbed wire under armed watch.

In the Avenues of Salt Lake City, sandwiched between two $1 million homes, Raymond Uno, 80 — sans photos — recounts a similar story. He was in middle school in California when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, forever changing the course of his life. Within a matter of months he was shipped off to the desert and locked up for the sole crime of being of Japanese-American descent.

Both men, one a retired judge, the other a retired graphic design artist, recall the three plus years they spent in captivity dryly, shedding no tears, speaking as if they were reading out of a history book. "I was a child," Nagata said. "I didn't understand the gravity of what had been done to me," Uno said.

But what they didn't understand as children came back to haunt them as adults. They lost their freedom, their dignity, their inheritance — all things the U.S. Constitution vowed to protect. Their parents, overwhelmed by the burden of it all, tried their best but, for one reason or another, the two youngsters found themselves faced with the task of growing up on their own. Innocence lost, they resolved to do what they could to make sure history did not repeat. Though their lists of accomplishments are long, the now-graying men acknowledge with dismay that, illustrated by the way the country is dealing with immigration and the War on Terror, Americans of different ethnic backgrounds still don't trust each other....

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