On December 7th, 1941, Japanese forces attacked Pearl Harbor, leading to our country’s entry into World War Two.
In 1942, the United States government ordered more 110,000 men, women and children to leave their homes and be detained in remote, military style internment camps. These people were U.S. citizens of Japanese ancestry, and resident Japanese aliens.
Manzanar is one of the ten internment camps across the western US, located in California along highway 395, against the backdrop of the Eastern Sierra mountains.
I come here hoping to learn from the past mistakes of history, and to remind others of the same. Lately the news media has been filled with hateful and disturbing racial rhetoric.
Building walls along our country’s border to keep out Mexican’s, slandering Muslim’s and wanting to ban them from entering our country after terrorist attacks worldwide create global fear, blocking refugee’s from the chance at a new life after the one they had was literally ripped from them, etc…
My voice wants to rise above such aggression, and to remind us what humans can do when fear and prejudice cloud common sense and reason.
We become ugly, a destroyer of humanity.
There isn’t much left of Manzanar these days, as most of the buildings have been torn down. The feeling has not left though. You can sense it in every tree and tumbleweed, in the broken concrete and dusty roads that connect this area.
A couple of restored barracks showcase a small glimpse of camp life for the people that were forced to stay here. It’s a chilling and sad display.
An old tricycle sits in a corner. I imagine the child that would have ridden it through the dirt, trying to play in this new land, as their parents struggled to survive and wonder why….
As much as I want to believe that this is not My America, I know that to not be true.
I will fight though, with thoughts and words, for what is right.
I will showcase the horrors and travesties of the past, honor the dead.
I will not forget.