Dialogue – Is “An American Promise” Being Broken?

Dialogue – Is “An American Promise” Being Broken?

Photo of Gerald R. Ford back in 1976 as he signs “An American Promise,” officially repealing Executive Order 9066.

Karleen C. Chinen
Commentary

If nothing else, Donald Trump’s presidency is prompting many of us to pay closer attention to the business of governing in America. So many of the procedures that I never gave a second thought to now have me visiting google.com numerous times a day and asking, “Can he do that?” And, I pay much more attention to world and national news than I ever did previously.

As President Barack Obama’s final term began winding down and it became increasingly more difficult for any of his proposals to make it through the highly partisan Congress — do you realize that the U.S. Supreme Court has been without its ninth justice for a whole year now because Obama’s pick could not get even a hearing? — President Obama turned to executive orders to push through his agenda. Over the course of time, I learned, of course, that executive orders can always be repealed . . . which is exactly what Donald Trump vowed to do from Day One of his presidency — and he has —and has signed his own executive orders in grand Oval Office ceremonies.

All of the talk about executive orders got me wondering whether President Franklin Roosevelt’s infamous Executive Order 9066 was ever repealed. A lead from civil rights attorney Dale Minami led me to the website of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library.

Executive Order 9066 was indeed repealed by President Ford in February 1976. The following is the text of Proclamation 4417, confirming the termination of EO 9066. It is worth re-reading in these troubled times. Titled “An American Promise,” it was signed by President Ford and is preserved in the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library and Museum in Ann Arbor, Mich.

February 19, 1976

By the President of the United States of America,

a Proclamation

In this Bicentennial Year, we are commemorating the anniversary dates of many great events in American history. An honest reckoning, however, must include a recognition of our national mistakes as well as our national achievements. Learning from our mistakes is not pleasant, but as a great philosopher once admonished, we must do so if we want to avoid repeating them.

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