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72 Years Later, Japanese-American Interned in WWII Gets to Walk in High School Graduation

When the seniors of the Class of 2014 learned of Dr. Don Miyada’s story, they were so moved that they decided to invite him to be a part of their own ceremony, and to right a decades-old wrong.

Dr. Don Miyada. Photo courtesy the Newport Harbor High School Alumni Association.
Dr. Don Miyada. Photo courtesy the Newport Harbor High School Alumni Association.
From a Newport Harbor High School Alumni Association press release:

The graduating Seniors of Newport Harbor High School featured a special addition at commencement Thursday, when Dr. Don Miyada returns to his alma mater to finally walk in his high school graduation. 

Miyada was forced to miss his original ceremony in 1942, when at the beginning of World War II he and his entire family were sent to a Japanese Internment Camp weeks before graduation.

Now 72 years later at the invitation of the Class of 2014, he finally received the commendation he deserves.

Miyada began at Newport Harbor High School in 1938, unaware that in the next few years, world events would keep him from his graduation day. In the spring of 1942, Miyada and his family were sent to the Poston War Relocation Center, a Japanese Internment camp in Arizona.

He treasured the Newport Harbor High School diploma he received at Poston by mail, because many of his peers from other schools were not given their diplomas; however, he missed the opportunity to celebrate this accomplishment in front of the Newport Harbor community. 

When the seniors of the Class of 2014 learned of Miyada’s story, they were so moved that they decided to invite him to be a part of their own ceremony, and to right a decades-old wrong.

Despite the hardship of his family’s situation in 1942, Miyada remarkably kept a positive outlook, and what he remembers most from that time is the kindness of other people. While in the Relocation Center, he received a letter from his Newport Harbor Social Studies teacher, Roy O. Andersen, who went on to act as superintendent and have a Newport Beach elementary school named after him.

Touched by his teacher’s genuine concern for his situation, Miyada treasured this letter and held onto it for more than 70 years. He now plans to give Mr. Andersen’s letter to Newport Harbor High School to be displayed in the school’s Heritage Hall.

In 1944, Miyada joined the 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team, and was awarded with the Congressional Gold Medal for his service in a Washington D.C. ceremony in 2011. 

When World War II ended, Miyada was finally free to pursue higher education, and he earned a B.S. in chemistry at UCLA, and then a Ph.D. in chemistry from Michigan State University. 

After continuing with post graduate studies, Miyada returned home to California to Before the afternoon graduation ceremony, Miyada will be among the first 15 members inducted into the new Newport Harbor High School Alumni Association Hall of Fame, in a special presentation at 11 a.m. on the morning of June 19 in the school’s main theater. 

The list of 10 student alumni and five faculty includes great athletes, brave military personnel, artists of screen and paint, as well as educators and philanthropists—all individuals who reflect Newport Harbor High School’s most cherished values, by excelling in their chosen fields and generously giving back to their communities. 

The school’s Heritage Hall, which chronicles 84 years of Newport Harbor history through photos and The Hall of Fame, the Class of 2014, and the entire Newport Harbor High School community are honored to count Dr. Don Miyada as one of our own and an important part of the school’s continuing legacy. 

Since its founding in 1930, Newport Harbor High School has proudly served its community as a California Distinguished School, National Blue Ribbon School, and International Baccalaureate School. The Alumni Association is committed to honoring this legacy, by preserving the school’s rich heritage, involving students past and present, and financially supporting school programs. See what is happening next at www.nhhs-alumni.org.

Brainwashed_In_Church June 20, 2014 at 03:02 PM
I wouldn't have been surprised if he had given them the middle finger salute either: "Thanks (for jacking my life in the 1940s) but No Thanks (for allowing me to be a publicity and show and tell object at your graduation so you can feel better and ease your parents' guilty conscience)."
Anna E Wooten June 21, 2014 at 11:49 PM
Wow what a wonderful opportunity, I am proud of you sir. Thank yoou for doing your part.

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