David Alan Mura was born in Great Lakes, Illinois, in 1952 to Tom K. Mura and Tesuko Mura. Mura’s grandfather, like many other men of his generation, lost his business during World War II, after President Franklin Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, which forced the relocation of Japanese residing on the West Coast to hastily created camps. The internment left indelible marks on the lives of the Nisei, second-generation Japanese Americans. Seeing the disintegration of the lives of their parents, who had been denied civil rights and had been treated as traitors, the Nisei often turned their energies to becoming assimilated and proving their loyalty to the American way of life at the expense of their own heritage. By the time David was born, his father had shortened his family name Uyemura to Mura and converted to Christianity so that he could meld into mainstream America. David grew up in comfortable circumstances in a prosperous section of the city.
Mura’s childhood was typical of all Sansei, or third-generation Japanese Americans. The oldest of four children, he was expected to excel in academics and extramural activities. However, his childhood and adolescence were not very happy: Like many children of minority families who quickly become Americanized in their behavior and thinking, he chafed under his father’s autocratic ways and felt that denying his Japanese roots would grant him acceptance at the majority white school he attended. He was a...
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