Sunday, April 19, 2009


Sign at the entrance.

Information about yearly pilgrimages to Manzanar.

An orchard

Gravestone- notice the money and paper cranes

More Cranes

This beautiful monument was built in the graveyard. The characters mean something about "a place for the soul to rest."

Money left on a rock in the entrance to the graveyard. Isn't it sad that United States citizens had to die behind barbed wire in their own country?
A book written and illustrated by one the the students in the Manzanar school.

A replica of the barracks they had to live in.

Hostile, ugly signs like these were plastered on businesses and in neighborhoods.

Manzanar was a relocation camp for citizens of Japanese descent during World War II. It's so close to Bishop, but ironically we never talked about it or learned about it in school. (I think we should have read Farewell to Manzanar and gone there on a field trip, but we didn't.) They created a beautiful museum where Manzanar was, and on the way home from Bishop, I took Matt and the girls for a visit.
The Japanese have a beautiful culture- artistic, brave, and resilient. These American citizens were driven out of their homes. They left behind their furniture, their businesses, their pets, their friends- everything. They were shipped across the state to many camps. Manzanar was one of them. The desert winds and cold mountain air were often unforgiving. One man on the video presentation said that there were holes in the roof where he could see the sky, but his thoughts were about how beautiful the stars were. This same gentleman talked about waking up in the morning to his cot and bedding covered in sand from the wind.
And yet--these people made beauty where there was only unfamiliar. They planted gardens and orchards. They painted. They played baseball, held school, and wrote for a newspaper about Manzanar. When they were finally able to leave Manzanar (after years) they also had to leave the Western states. Essentially, they had to start completely over. They did so with grace and dignity.
I'm so glad that I was able to teach the kids about this place. Matt summed it up perfectly when he said, "This is important. Why didn't I ever learn about this?"

1 comment:

Stephanie said...

I've read some books recently on the relocation camps and have wondered why we never learned that stuff either. Especially with Manzanar, being practically in our backyard. I've just done quite a bit of reading on North Korea too. Very interesting stuff. A lot I never knew. How we as a country could rationalize putting our own citizens in camps is beyond me. I was told once..."well you never lived through war, it was a different time then..." I guess so..but still. I can't wrap my head around it.
Looks like fun in B-town with the kids and Jenni. Her little guy sure is CUTE!