As a follow up to the Honorary Degrees that OSU awarded to Japanese Americans who had been uprooted from the university and interned during WWII. The Times Picayune (New Orleans) ran a great story on Tommy Ouchida who participated in the June Ceremony.
A 1942 presidential order forced Ouchida, his family and more than 100,000 other Japanese or Japanese-Americans into guarded camps.
“My family lost everything,” he said. Their successful berry farm, a house, three cars. Ouchida, the son of Japanese immigrants, and his relatives each carried only a suitcase or two with them to the stockyards in Portland.
Ouchida abandoned his studies at Oregon State. But he took his chemistry books and studied in the internment-camp tent where his family lived for several months. “From childhood, I dreamed to be a chemist,” he said.
To some, such a degree might seem a token gesture, not very useful to a man who left the working world a couple decades earlier.
But to Ouchida, who will be 90 next month, the degree represented all that was taken from him, how much harder he had to work to compete with college graduates.
“I’m relaxed. The tension’s not there anymore,” Ouchida said. “Sixty-six years I waited for this.”