Tomas Kaselionis' blog post from Sept. 1, "Marin Recognizes POW/MIA Day," was outstanding but we don't want to forget the civilian men, women and children who were interned by the Japanese during World War II.
These Americans and their stories have been ignored to a large extent by schools and the public. Their story begs to be told. Two of the speakers at the event will be former civilian POWs who will galk about their experiences.
So bring your friends, kids, grandkids and neighbors to the Marin Veterans Memorial Auditorium on Sept. 15 and learn some history that you might not have known or had forgotten. The , a newly formed organization, will host the event from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Kids, perhaps you can get some extra credit for a report on the event. Teachers, maybe you could encourage this.
The event is free and there will be a hosted reception following.
World War II Civilian Prisoners of War
During World War II, almost 150,000 Allied civilians were held in prison camps throughout the areas of East Asia occupied by the Japanese. This included a swath from New Guinea, to the Philippines, Indonesia, Burma, Malaya, and China. In addition, some civilians were held in Military POW camps because the Japanese perceived that they held some connection with an Allied military force, such as being a reservist or a member of a self-defense force. Almost 100 camps held Civilian prisoners throughout the region of Japanese occupation.
Official government statistics show that 14,000 American civilians were among these prisoners, with 7,300 held in the Philippines, 3,300 in China, and the rest scattered throughout the Pacific Islands and other Asian locations. Of these, a total of 11% either died in captivity or disappeared. Another 2,000 Americans who were captured by the Japanese were returned home in prisoner exchanges that occurred in 1942 and 1943.
The Bay Area Civilian Ex-Prisoners of War (BACEPOW) organization is dedicated to supporting and telling the story of all of these people who were captives of the Japanese. Though the organization was founded in the San Francisco area, its membership is now nation-wide, with members in several other countries. We welcome those who were civilian and military prisoners, their families and friends, and those who are interested in the history of the prison camps in East Asia. Our primary focus is on the prison camps in the Philippines, where most of our ex-POW members spent more than 3 years under the inhumane treatment of the Japanese occupying forces.