Real History, Real People — Hear Firsthand Stories from WWII

Boone County Public Library brings you three speakers this spring who lived through WWII, each with a different story to tell. Dr. Al Miller will talk about growing up Jewish in Germany, Lt. Colonel Richard Cole (the last living Doolittle Raider) will tell you about the top secret mission he participated in to bomb Japan, and Gordon Yoshikawa will share his childhood experience of living in a Japanese internment camp in America during the War. Dr. Miller and Lt. Colonel Cole will each speak twice, so that we can accomodate everyone who wants to hear them speak.

Dr. Al Miller: Holocaust Survivor

Dr. Al Miller shares his story of growing up as a German Jew during WWII at Boone County Public Library, 1786 Burlington Pike in Burlington, at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, April 5 and again on Wednesday, April 12.

Born in Berlin in 1922, Dr. Miller has many happy memories of his early childhood. As an active youth who enjoyed sports, he remembers the day he was no longer allowed into his favorite recreation center because Jews had been banned from the facility. Many of his childhood friends joined the Hitler Youth and stopped being friends with him. An enthusiastic student, he became the last Jewish student in his class to continue to attend school until it was too unwelcoming for him to stay.

In 1936, Dr. Miller was present at the infamous Berlin Olympics where Jesse Owens won four medals. As German Jews faced increasingly difficult conditions, his family arranged to leave the country and resettle. Dr. Miller was sent to Switzerland in 1937 and was separated from his family. His brother was sent to England and his parents remained in Germany and endured Kristallnacht. The family was eventually reunited in England before immigrating to America in 1939. Dr. Miller settled in Hamilton, Ohio where he practiced optometry until his retirement.

Lt. Colonel Richard Cole: Last of the Doolittle Raiders

On April 18, 1942, eighty men took off on a top-secret mission to bomb Japan. The mission was thought to be impossible. These men, led by Lt. Col. James H. Doolittle, came to be known as the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders. Today only Lt. Col. Doolittle’s co-pilot Lt. Colonel Richard Cole survives. In honor of the 75th anniversary of the Doolittle Raid, Lt. Col. Cole will share his story at Boone County Public Library, 1786 Burlington Pike in Burlington, on Wednesday, April 19 at 1 p.m. and again at 6:30 p.m.

A 30-minute showing of “Raiders Remembered” will precede Lt .Colonel Cole’s talk and a book signing will follow. Co-sponsored by Simon Kenton SAR & Boone County DAR.

Gordon Yoshikawa: Japanese Internment Camp Resident

Mark your calendars now for Wednesday, May 17 at 7 p.m. at Boone County Public Library, 1786 Burlington Pike in Burlington, when Gordon Yoshikawa talks about his experience living in a Japanese internment camp as a young child.

Gordon Yoshikawa lived with his parents and four siblings in Yuba City, CA. He was seven years old when war was declared on Japan on December 8, 1941. Executive Order 9066 was signed on February 19, 1942 and five months later his family was sent to an internment camp at Tule Lake, CA. Two years later they were transferred to a second camp at Topaz, UT. Gordon and his parents were the last of their family to be released from the camp. His family resettled in Cincinnati, OH in May 1945. Gordon attended Hyde Park Elementary, Withrow High School and University of Cincinnati.  After completing college, Gordon spent 37 years as a chemist in the printing ink and varnish industry.

Not familiar with Executive Order 9066?
During the spring of 1942, under the authorization of Executive Order 9066, signed by President Franklin Roosevelt, and the War Relocation Authority, more than 120,000 Americans of Japanese descent, some 80,000 of whom were natural born US citizens, were herded first into relocation centers, such as the stables at Santa Anita Racetrack, and then on to one of the ten incarceration centers mostly located in the most desolate parts of the western United States.  This happened without any due process of or evidence of disloyalty to the U.S.  Read more about Executive Order 9066 here.