THE NATIONAL PARKS | Manzanar: “Never Again” | PBS

THE NATIONAL PARKS | Manzanar: “Never Again” | PBS


You know it’s [very] humiliating experience to be rounded up by your own government it was very painful because you not just were cast as enemies [you] lost everything materially after the Japanese bombed Pearl [Harbor] in December of 1941 the [United] States government decided Japanese-Americans were enemies of the [state] within months over 100,000 us citizens and legal residents Were ordered to leave their homes and report to one of [ten] remote internment centers? [Manzanar] in the High California desert is one of those internment camps Now this is Janice. That’s jess it’s you. Yeah this was a [Manzanar] uh And it looks like what do you think maybe I was 12 months old? [yes]? And then this is Janice and Mom with the bear behind Oh, yeah, if you look at our pictures every group of folks that are being evacuated. [we’re] all dressed up Can you imagine being order to come into Camp and like? Line their best clothes wearing a best clothespin, and I’m coming early. Yes on time Yes, absolutely yes [tonight] when I look back at it, and if it were to happen today. Oh my I would raise that tail Mom, [oh], we need more spam Okay, I’ll get it my father never saw me my mother was pregnant with me, and he gave up his citizenship and Left with his family to go back to Japan and my mother was not gonna give hers up [Mommy] I said I’ll join the waves the [wac] [say] anything, but I sure am [not] leaving America 800 Volunteers From the Japanese-American Community came up here including my uncle to build the barracks So they dressed in their finest they showed up early and they built And they built the barracks where they were to be housed the barracks were cobbled together out of scrap lumber and Tar paper there was no insulation. There was no privacy because they were just these 20 by 25 foot boxes prefabricated barracks spring up It’s in no sense a concentration camp, but a city with its front yard in the snow peak Sierra, Nevadas here eventually 12,000 will live and work, I Came to camp when I was almost 10 [years] old We left early in the morning takes 9 hours to drive here And we got it was really dusty and it was nothing, but this barracks there, so it was very stark It was like a being abandoned yeah, I Think when you come out here, [and] you feel the heat And you see the dust and some years it’s very windy the dust is going up your nose and your hair is just flying everywhere You know you you really kind of can appreciate what the people went through Where the [Japanese-Americans] live was basically one square mile? And it was enclosed by a five strand barbed wire fence there were also eight guard towers Security was really high very tight one thing I’ll never forget my grandmother telling me is that when they first got here my great-grandmother was sit under the Apple orchard and cry and sob But she couldn’t give her children a better life that she couldn’t provide them the opportunities [that] she wanted to [google], okay, didn’t [I] hook you [land] up? Camp was boring. There’s nothing to do we had to leave everything we had behind so you made whatever towards you could make Out of material you had on hand We had no other options. We were stuck behind a [barbed-wire] fence, so we made the best we can out of it My older brother he heard one day about some of the guys they went fishing [in] the local Creek So we [climbed] one of the Bob wire and leave camp we never had permission to go we just snuffed out a camp by ourselves the war of course ends in August 1945, but the camp didn’t close until november 21st of 1945 and that is because a lot of the people who [were] here had nowhere to go Camp life was really bad because we were in captivity we could do we wanted to do but I’ll [rougher] life [a] More devastating part of our my life history is when we came out of camp Because in camp you were fed three times a day you had necessities of life Before the war sets to meet his father had a thriving trucking business in Southern California, and the family lived comfortably When they left Manzanar they had no home no money and faced rampant prejudice The only job Mr.. Tomita could find was cleaning rabbit pen And the place to live was a two-car garage all it has was one single light bulb No water. No heat no electricity no gas We had two bits and nine of us slept in that room there, so [you] talk about harsh conditions [campus], okay commercial? when the community emerges from camp with many people dispossessed of all of their possessions and Livelihood and houses they had to bury the pain and Anger and frustration in order to survive For years even mentioning the internment experience was taboo amongst Americans finally in 1969 250 students and activists returned to reclaim their history now thousands make the Annual pilgrimage to Remember past in justices and raise awareness of other civil rights struggles. We’re here to continue the legacy bringing friends of the community together to remember what happened at Manzanar in hopes of something like this never [happening] again my mother became connected to these young students and this asian pride movement and came back to Manzanar in 69 and [Manzanar] became bigger than life over the course of the next year to TSukuda, [Tony] Embry was really the driving Force behind the creation of mann’s in our historic site She began organizing the pilgrimages and you know for almost 40 years was involved in preserving this site She was very patriotic Not someone whose patriotism was sort of mindless nationalism But defending your country and making your country stand for what its constitution says it stands for I want people 50 years from now to remember. What was there? Although [it] was a negative place. We want to turn it around to be positive So [that] people will always remember that America is a democracy [Sukoon] [ito] me Embry After that first visit sue embry threw herself into the cause the next year she brought her children so here I am 11 years old 12 years old and I get to come to Manzanar to the next pilgrimage and We pull up and I look around and I said Where’s [Manzanar] and I’m thinking what the heck? How this excitement all this animated discussion all this time, and there’s nothing here There’s desert after [the] war the camp was quickly torn down If not for a small monument built to honor man’s and ours dead no one [would] know the Camp had ever existed No one ever dreamed. We would have a park No one ever dreamed We would have the national government take responsibility for this and many people Didn’t want them to There are large numbers of even former intern ees that felt that Why are you bringing this up now? It’s in the past [it’s] going to call unnecessary negative attention to us there’s people out there that already hate us don’t give them more ammunition For two decades sue embry and others push the government to commemorate the site finally in 1988 Congress issued a formal apology and paid twenty thousand dollars in reparations to every surviving internee Four years later the man’s in our national historic site was established At the end of every pilgrimage former internees tell their heart-wrenching stories the infant mortality inside the [Camp’s] was ten times higher than outside the [Camp’s] so I’m you know that’s incredible. Why was to believe that children were deemed as Dangerous to this country my family lived this I [imagined] my grandmother with five children You know teens on down to my mom who was three which is the same age my daughter is now. This can’t happen again ever My dad had tractors he had trucks we had two cars. He must have been doing fairly well financially And then of course the war started and everything came going in and that’s how I’m sure Many Japanese family were affected It was just totally [tough] [as] [dirty] Other civil rights activists Share their stories too. My wife they always harass her I tell her to go go back This is still goes on as a muslim American I’ve been discriminated so many times because of stereotypes that have been presented by the media people telling me. I saw it on MSNBC I saw it on this you you know literally literally you had to speak out because nobody spoke out for us and It makes a difference These kind of things are going on now, and I think we tell the story because we really feel our country I Don’t think they’ve learned much about Prejudice A Lot of people think of the national parks as the great natural areas and the great recreational areas But I think one of the really neat things about the national park system. Is that we also preserve our history and Not just the glowing parts of our history but in some of the newer parks like Manzanar like some of the civil rights sites We are actually talking about some of them not so wonderful parts of our history Routes were pulled up people’s lives were altered forever [it] was an important part of our history because we have a Constitution and it says that we have rights and these people basically were told that it doesn’t apply to you Having mane’s and ours and part of the national park [system] Allows people to come and learn [about] this chapter of history, and I think it gives people an opportunity to [think] about their own civic responsibilities and What we can each do to help America live up to its promises How the government treats the citizens that’s our story, so I think if we don’t have that conversation We’re not doing what we should [be] [doing] here at Manzanar We want to shout [to] the [world] that we are a great nation willing to say that we are sorry about what we did [and] Not only are we a democracy, but we work at it for all of us the working at it is the important part Sue can [he] tell me Embree?

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