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Allegiance – A film review

by Rev. Dorothy Crockett

Dorothy-Crockett-300x238The producers of the movie Allegiance scheduled its public presentation for Sunday, March 12, 2017, beginning at precisely 12:50 p.m. This was to commemorate an infamous, historical event that occurred 75 years ago. This movie celebrates the spirit of the 110,00 Japanese American citizens who were interned following the attack in Pearl Harbor.

It was in 1942, on Feb. 19, when President Roosevelt, signed Executive Order 9066.  Afterwards, on March 21, Public Law 503 led to enforced, unannounced removal of 110,00 Japanese American citizens from their homes – a reaction to the Japanese military attack and bombing of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on December 7, 1941.*  Without notice, these citizens lost their homes, their properties, and their businesses. With little time, they were told to take what they could in suitcases and what they could carry. Scattered around the continent of the United States, they were taken to various internment camps.

In observation of this injustice, the film (based on the Broadway play of the same name) starring George Takei, as Sam Kimora and Leu Salonica as his sister Kei, depicts the chaotic environment for one Japanese American family. Allegiance illustrates the width and depth of emotions they experienced. Their emotions range from joy in retaining traditional holidays and family observations to anger at their unjust situation. It displays the raw dynamics of everyday living in these ‘camps.’

Heart-breaking moments include the family conflict as Sam, and 33,000 other encamped men, make the ultimate decision to join the U..S. military to fight for their country, thus proving their loyalty and allegiance. However, Sam’s sister, Lei, and others, take the opposite view, and are unwilling to defend the very government that interred them. As a result, years pass without a family reconciliation.

A poignant scene shows Sam, now an elderly man, as he is informed of his estranged sister’s death. Then, he rediscovers his niece, whom he had last seen as a baby.  Finally, a forgiveness occurs and a deep sense of peace is known.

Upon leaving the movie theater, in reflection, it occurs to me that the Spirit is moving, through this film, and many other historically based films. They provide an insight into the histories of how people in a variety of countries suffered genocide and unspeakable acts of inhumanity. In time: truth be told.

How can we learn from this? How can we integrate these past mistakes, turn them around to the present, and ask, “ What actions can we take to become more humane and just?”

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