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In the first row left to right: Karen Ojamaa, Elo-Kai Ojamaa, Airi Vaga, Larry Ericksen, Norman Ikeda “honorary Estonian” - named unanimously by his friends, Eevi Truumees SECC trustee, Helgi Nelson, Liia Vilms, Aili Labidas, Koit Ojamaa. Second row left to right: Valdis Basens, E.E.L.C. Bishop Thomas Vaga, Marilem Ferentinos, Koit Ojamaa, Jaak Vilms, PhD (standing on a chair) and architect Ilmar Reinvald. Photo by Evi Truumees

 

Seabrook Educational and Cultural Center (SECC) and Seabrook Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) organized a threeday reunion. Everyone with ties to Seabrook was invited to celebrate and reminisce abolut their Seabrook experiences. The headquarters of the Reunion was in the Ramada Inn, Vineland, NJ.

 

John Seabrook Sr. gave his guarantee to many Estonians and Estonian families to start their life in the United States of America. Many Estonians who were just young children at the time when their parents came to Seabrook to work in the Seabrook farms frozen food factories attended the event. Also, huge numbers of American Japanese had arrived from all over the USA. Marilem Soodla Ferentinos explained in her article in Seabrook Educational and Cultural Center Spring 2017 Bulletin no.31, that the Estonian children did not know or care why they had Japanese classmates. She writes that the Japanese in Seabrook were not new immigrants in Seabrook. Nearly 120,000 people of Japanese descent had been interned by President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s order during World War II. They were dispossessed like the Estonians but at the same time they were American citizens who were stripped of their homes and businesses and put into American concentration camps during the war because Japan and USA were enemies at that time. “Coming to Seabrook, despite the hardships, was a chance for a new life and a second chance at the American dream.”

 

During the Reunion many Estonians met their former Japanese classmates. Many Estonians had travelled from great distances. Architect Ilmar Reinvald had arrived from Hawaii, Liia and Jaak Vilms from Boston, Koit Ojamaa from Washington DC, Marilem Soodla Ferentinos from Boston, Karen and Mart Ojamaa from Massachusetts, and many other Estonians. From Seabrook was the SECC trustee Eevi Vilms Truumees.

 

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