20 hours ago
Thursday, April 14, 2016
Japanese Internment Camps
I have learned a lot about Japanese Internment from history classes, reading books, and visiting sites. A summer or two ago we had the pleasure of visiting a place not too far from Cody, Wyoming called Heart Mountain. The visitor center there is well-done. I don't remember, but I think it's managed by the Wyoming Historical Society, but I could actually be way off on that. One of the impactful things I remember from that site is that the visitor center itself is built in the shape of barracks. They have a guard tower. And when you use the restroom...they've installed mirrors on the side walls of each stall to make you feel a little uncomfortable because there were no stall walls for the internees and this is the same thing they mention at other sites.
We visited the Japanese gardens (Japanese Tea Garden?) in San Francisco and learned that some other people took care of that beautiful place for the 3.5 years that their Japanese friends and neighbors had to be away. I can't imagine being ripped away from my current life. What would I pack with only 48 hours notice? Where would I go once released? How would I start over?
And yet the Japanese were model citizens and model internees (prisoners, if you will) and even model soldiers. I just can't imagine the injustice of it all.
And yet...I am able to see the other side. We've just been bombed, the fleet was destroyed, panic has set in. Snap decisions were made and I suppose leaders were doing the best they could at the time. My own dad says that he used to have nightmares as a child that German soldiers would break into their home in the middle of the night, so he had a few good hiding spots planned out to save himself should something like that ever happen. I have been spared from so much throughout my easy life and my thanks goes to everyone who has sacrificed something to make that happen to me.
Anyway, on the way back from Death Valley, we visited Manzanar National Historic Site in California. They had a great film, museum with wonderful exhibits, and barracks out on the grounds to visit.
Then we stopped in Delta, Utah on the way home to visit the Topaz Museum on Main Street. Wonderful! You should go.
And then we drove out to the Topaz Internment Camp a few miles out of town. We drove around following an auto tour guide, reading aloud to each other at each stop. We got out and walked around. K said, "It's like a ghost town."
Heart Mountain. Manzanar. Topaz. Three Japanese Internment Camps down and seven to go.