Manzanar View

Manzanar National Historic Site, one of ten camps where American citizens of Japanese descent were incarcerated during World War II.

Just because of their heritage.

They were Americans, held prisoner, without due process, without a trial, by their own government.  A government that they trusted.

A government that held them prisoner.

Just because of their heritage.

Manzanar War Relocation Center, Independence, California

—————————–

After Goddess and I drove through Death Valley, Manzanar was an absolute must-stop.  I was aware of the history, Goddess was not.  I also needed to see how they had improved the site, since the National Historic Site complex was not opened until 2004.  Prior to that, there was nothing to mark the location other than a single stone obelisk that was the edge of the cemetery for those that died here.

Some 30+ years ago, I lived just 90 minutes south of here and on our many trips on US 395, I’d see the sign marking the dirt road to the obelisk.  Just the simple act of reading it as we passed by a few times a year was enough to cement the name in my mind.  Later on I became familiar with Ansel Adam’s landscape and documentary images of the camp, which led to research and learning.

It was a place that came to mind often while we lived in Europe, touring places like Dachau.  Although I could never equate Manzanar to Dachau, since there was no plan or action to eliminate the prisoners in Manzanar.  Some studies of the mortality rates of Manzanar show it to be statistically similar to free cities with the same population.

With heavy hearts we drove onto the grounds, just thinking about American citizens who were imprisoned just because of their heritage.  The point was driven home as we walked into the visitor’s center.  Seated on a bench was a park ranger with two kids of Japanese descent.  Mother stood nearby as the ranger explained to the kids, the oldest about eight years old, that had they lived in the United States during that time, they would have been rounded up and held prisoner in this camp.  Just because of their heritage.

That was tough to hear and see.

If you are ever driving along US 395 along the Eastern Sierras, take an hour or two and stop in.  The site is large and there are several displays scattered about several miles where they were able to restore artifacts that made life more bearable for the prisoners.  I’ll be posting images of some of those things in the coming weeks.

—————————–

As far as the landscape goes, that’s the Eastern Sierras in the background.  Absolutely beautiful chunks of rock, if you ask me.  Of course, I’m biased, having been able to spend several years of my youth living with them in sight, being able to camp and hike and fish all over them.

And if you look at highest peak left of center, that is Mount Whitney, the highest point in the contiguous United States, topping out at 14,505′.

Advertisements

3 thoughts on “Manzanar View”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s