"A Dark Part of U.S. History" Manzanar by Hopkid
Manzanar Travel Guide: 20 reviews and 58 photos
I think the California Historical Landmark plaque at the entrance to Manzanar says it best:
"In the early part of World War II, 110,000 persons of Japanese ancestry were interned in relocation centers by Executive Order 9066 issued on February 19, 1942.
Manzanar, the first of ten such concentration camps, was bounded by barbed wire and guard towers, confining 10,000 persons, the majority of which were American citizens.
May the injustices and humiliation suffered here as a result of hysteria, racism, and economic exploitation never emerge again."
I'm not sure we covered this during U.S. history during high school and I'm not sure how many U.S. history curricula touch on this subject. But it is an important if not ugly part of our nation's history. Manzanar, located in the Owens Valley off U.S. Highway 395, is now a National Historic Site operated and maintained by the National Park Service. I remember visiting the site over 10 years ago before the NPS took over. All that was there were the two stone security buildings at the entrance, their windows broken and filled with trash, a dilapidated old gymnasium, and the California Historical Landmark plaque. The NPS has done a great job in recreating the camp's layout including a driving tour of the grounds with landmarks noted by signs (all original buildings except the aforementioned guard houses and gym have long since been removed), and refurbishing the old gym and creating educational and interpretive displays that convey the events leading up to the relocation of those of Japanese ancestry and what life in the camps was like. While the internees made life in the camp as close to what life would have been like in the outside world, conditions were difficult with hastily-constructed, thin-walled barracks, bathrooms with no stalls between toilets or showers, extremes in temperatures from winter to summer, and constantly windy and dusty conditions, not to mention the guard towers with guns pointed within the barbed wire enclosure.
It should be noted that not one person of Japanese ancestry living in the U.S. at the time was found guilty of treason, espionage, or otherwise aiding the enemy against the United States.
Especially moving is the stone marker at the cemetary. It's a striking scene with the white monument framed with the majestic Sierra Nevada mountains in the background. The monument was built and installed while the camp was open due to a lack of materials needed to put headstones on each gravesite.
- Pros:Great exhibits, recreation of camp
- In a nutshell:Well-done reminder of an ugly episode in U.S. history
These are really fun and spark interest in the National Park Service system. The brainchild of a marketing genius, the... more travel advice
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