Two children of the Mochida family who, with their parents, are awaiting evacuation bus in Hayward, California on May 8, 1942. The youngster on the right holds a sandwich given her by one of a group of women who were present from a local church. The family unit is kept intact during evacuation and at War Relocation Authority centers where evacuees of Japanese ancestry were housed for the duration of the war.
A November 16, 2006 article by Matt O’Brien in the Oakland Tribune interviewed some of the Mochida children who had the following to say about the famous photograph and their internment:
“I don’t even remember the picture being taken,” said Satsuki Ward, who was barely 10 years old when she and her family members were uprooted from their East Bay home in May 1942. “It was utter chaos.”
Ward, now a 76-year-old Fairfield resident, found out about Lange and her photographs of Japanese-American internment much later. The portrait of the Mochida family wearing identification tags around their necks made the pages of Newsweek magazine and other outlets, and helped expose a dark moment in American history.
Miyuki Hirano of Sparks, Nev., another one of the surviving Mochida siblings, remembers seeing her face on that book’s cover.
But while they occasionally see reminders of their youth in print, it took many years for Mochida family members to be able to talk frankly about what happened to them, said Kayoko Ikuma, 69, of San Mateo, who was 4 when Lange took her photo.
Ikuma said witnessing the treatment of America’s Muslim population has made her try to share her experience more.
Their parents avoided discussing the internment after the war. Their father, who had owned a successful flower-growing business in unincorporated Alameda County, returned from the camps unhappy, spent the rest of his life in domestic labor and took to drinking.
The Lange photographs, and the Mochida children’s more vivid memories of years spent in the Utah camp, is all they have left from that time.