Men of Roses: One man left behind

You’re a college football player. You just helped your team earn a berth into college football’s most iconic game — the Rose Bowl. You can’t wait for your hard work to pay off as you join your teammates in the biggest moment of your athletic career.

But you aren’t going . You’re Japanese-American.

That was long ago — at the end of 1941. Imagine the look on Jack Yoshihara’s face when two FBI agents interrupted practice in Corvallis to inform head coach Lon Stiner that Yoshihara would not be joining his football family at the Rose Bowl game, just a couple weeks after the attack on Pearl Harbor, because he was deemed a threat to the country.

“I will never forget that day,” George Zellick, a teammate of Yoshihara’s, told the Los Angeles Times in 2008. “It was late afternoon. It was drizzling. … (The two men) met with the coach, and the next thing we knew, Jack left with them. It was the first indication that there was a problem.”

That problem was Jack’s Japanese heritage. After Pearl Harbor, the U.S. government prohibited anyone with Japanese ancestry from traveling more than 35 miles from home.