Oct. 5 marks the 76th anniversary of the first day of school for students at the Heart Mountain War Relocation Center.
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt authorized the creation of Japanese American internment camps in March 1942, construction of the Heart Mountain facility near Cody began that summer and the first trainload of internees arrived from California in August, according to the Heart Mountain Interpretive Center’s website. By the end of the World War II, 120,000 persons of Japanese ancestry — men, women and children of all ages, the majority of them United States citizens — were forcibly removed from their homes and confined in internment camps throughout the country.
When school began in Oct. 1942 class was held in a barracks and supplies, including textbooks, were limited. By May 1943, however, a proper school had been constructed. According to the center’s website: “It had regular classrooms, an auditorium/gymnasium, a library, a large home economics room, a machine shop and a wood shop. Athletic teams began competing with other local high schools, and the football team, the Heart Mountain Eagles, suffered only one defeat in two years.”