Veteran's Day has a special meaning for new Royals bench coach Don Wakamatsu.

It is a time each year when he can reflect on what his family endured during World War II, and how their determination and courage provided an opportunity for him to create a life he now cherishes.

"I feel a sense of honor for what they had to go through," Wakamatsu says. "The sacrifices they made .... it's a special feeling."

Wakamatsu's grandparents, Ruth and James, were two of approximately 100,000 Japanese-Americans who were taken from their homes in 1942, a few months after the Pearl Harbor attack, and imprisoned for three years in internment camps. Those camps were created out of a national fear and panic that Japanese-Americans were divulging war secrets to Japan.

In these internment camps, prisoners were questioned by the government about their loyalty to the United States. Adult men later were given the option of remaining in the camps or signing up for the military. In fact, three of Wakamatsu's uncles served in the 442nd Infantry Regiment, known as the most decorated regiment in the history of the U.S. military.

"To think that those men fought for our country over in Europe, fighting the Germans," Wakamatsu says, "and all the while they did that, their families are imprisoned back here in internment camps."

That Wakamatsu, 50, even learned of his family's history during World War II is somewhat of a fluke. When he was about 23, he recalls, he just happened to be in his parents' kitchen when his father, who was born in the Tule Lake, Calif., internment camp, opened a letter from the government.

It was a reparations check for $20,000.

"I just noticed his reaction," Wakamatsu recalls. "He looked at it and just tossed it aside disgustedly. I don't know what he ever did with that check."

Watching his father that day, though, made Wakamatsu determined to find out about his family's history.

"I had no idea what had actually happened," he says. "It was something no one in my family ever talked about. Not once. My grandfather never spoke of it, and I'm sure he never spoke much about it to my father. I just think there was too much pride or hurt or pain to bring it up.

"So, I decided I would do some digging. I started with really no knowledge of it all. It's not like they taught us about that part of the war in history class."

Wakamatsu was wary of going directly to the source -- his grandparents -- for fear of resurfacing the pain they seemed to have successfully buried as they built new lives after the war.