World War II Experience: Terry Shima and Mary Murakami

On April 27, visitors Terry Shima and Mary Murakami came to speak to students about their experiences during World War II, Shima as a sergeant and Murakami internee. History teachers Mr. Les Albers and Mr. Peter Vogel brought their classes to the Little Theater to have their students listen to Shima and Murakami speak.

Shima experienced the attack on Pearl Harbor with his regiment as Hawaii was sent into a state of chaos. “When Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, it was mass hysteria,” said Shima. He was drafted into the war and faced much discrimination from fellow soldiers due to the fact that he was a Japanese-American.

Alongside with Shima to talk about their journey was Murakami, a young girl at the time who was put into an internment camp along with her family and other Japanese-Americans. She had to cease her education and move into a camp in a small area with fellow Japanese-Americans from her old neighborhood in California. Later during her time in camp, Murakami was able to pursue an education although facing hardship. She did not have enough credits to move on and graduate high school, so she had to start all over. “My main concern in the camp was to get an education,” said Murakami. “I almost finished senior year when they told me I had to redo high school.” Once the war was over she was able to place out of high school and continue her education in college.

Shima and Murakami have experienced the two major sections of the war; the situation on the homefront and in battle. Their anecdotes shows the different and difficult lifestyles during this time period for Japanese-Americans.

Their speeches were followed by an array questions from students. Once the presentation was over, students were able to take pictures with Shima and Murakami as well as ask any follow up questions that they had not had the chance to discuss before.