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State apologizes for mistreatment of Italian residents during WWII

Monday, August 23, 2010

Los Angeles Times

The California Legislature has passed a resolution expressing “deepest regret” for the wartime internment, curfews, confiscations and other indignities that thousands of Italian and Italian American families faced.

When Mike Maiorana was a boy during World War II, his family was like a lot of others in his Monterey neighborhood. In 1942, his mother was declared an “enemy alien,” along with 600,000 other Italians and half a million Germans and Japanese who weren’t U.S. citizens. And when the government seized fishing boats for the war effort, Maiorana’s dad, a naturalized U.S. citizen, saw his livelihood go down the drain.

Families like the Maioranas last week received a formal acknowledgement from California. A measure that swiftly made its way through the Legislature expresses the state’s “deepest regrets” over the mistreatment of Italians and Italian Americans during World War II.

The resolution was the brainchild of a 79-year-old San Jose man, Chet Campanella, who entered a legislator’s annual “There Oughta Be a Law” contest.

Sen. Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) sponsored a bill based on Campanella’s idea. “I was wholly unaware of the circumstances he described,” Simitian said. “Somehow this story had passed me by.” Simitian said he saw “contemporary importance” in the effort: “We’re at war on the other side of the world, and I think it’s important to remember that there are millions of Americans who are ethnic Arabs or Muslim by faith, and that they’re good Americans.

View the full story (Los Angeles Times)