When talking about California’s history, the Gold Rush casts a mighty big shadow and rightly so. It caused the biggest migration and brought wealth to the Golden State. The topography also showcases our natural history. And yet one piece of tragic history is sadly unknown by many and can be taken in at the Manzanar National Historic Site.
Concentration Camps In The United States
Shortly after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt signed an executive order (9066) with the intention of preventing espionage in the United States. Through this order, American citizens of Japanese descent were forcibly removed from their homes and put into what were called a “wartime residence.”
80% Of Japanese Americans In The Continental U.S. Detained
From 1942 until 1945, over 120,000 Japanese American citizens were incarcerated in ten camps located throughout the Western United States. During the same period, this far surpassed the internment of German or Italian Americans which only consisted of those who were non-citizens.
See This History Up Close
To secure the history of what happened out of these camps, the National Park Service identified the best-preserved location to become a National Historic Site. Out of these ten, the Manzanar Internment Camp in the Owens Valley was the one selected. The site’s exhibits and structures help visitors gain an understanding of some of the internees’ experiences. Not just from Manzanar, but from all ten of the relocation centers.
Every year since 1969, an annual pilgrimage to Manzanar has happened. Held annually the last Saturday of April, it includes everyone of all ages and backgrounds as well as former inmates. The event consists of speakers, cultural performances, an interfaith service to memorialize those who died at Manzanar, and Ondo dancing.
When visiting Bishop’s big backyard to play, set aside time to explore the Manzanar National Historic Site. While it is a tragic chapter in American history, as another famous World War II leader Winston Churchill once said, “Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” It’s up to us to make sure it’s not forgotten or repeated.
A Virtual Tour
Nell Yukiye Murphy created this educational platform so that you could learn a little more about an American concentration camp from World War II. Take this virtual tour, participate in some activities, and put it on a list of places to go to. It’s not only an amazing and beautiful place, but it is so important. It represents a shameful part of American history as well as a frequently overlooked one.