Last Wednesday, April 26, 2017, on the day of the ceremony of remembrance at First Church to commemorate the mass removal and imprisonment of Japanese Americans in 1942, a bus arrived at the church bringing 32 Japanese Americans home from a pilgrimage to the Topaz concentration camp in Utah.
Among them were 15 who had been imprisoned at Topaz as children or teenagers, including four who were taken away from Berkeley on a bus that left our church 75 years ago, almost to the day.
A group of First Church members and others met them, holding signs saying “Welcome Home” that Louise Halsey created. Senior Minister Molly Baskette, Rev. Kevin Omi of Sycamore Congregational Church, and Rev. Candice Shibata of the Berkeley Buddhist Temple gathered with the Japanese Americans in a profound moment of reflection, and perhaps final closure, at the very spot where some began their forced journey to Topaz.