Advanced, powerful, educated, progressive - America is all these things and more in 1942. So how could we do this to our own citizens? How could we ignore the Constitution, having spent the last nearly two hundred years holding it up to other countries as how they should govern? How could we?
Fear, bigotry, political pressure, lack of experience - the exhibits at the Manzanar Historical Site do an excellent job of presenting facts and information about this shameful piece of our history, without making excuses, without placing blame, without hiding responsibility.
|Homes, businesses, and their contents, sold for pennies on the dollar, or abandoned|
|Moved from their beloved homes in the "exclusion" area to their new homes - relocation centers|
|Within the barracks blowing sand covered everything year round, temps reached over 100 degrees inside during the summer and near freezing in the winter|
In fact, there is no record of any attempted escape from Manzanar.
Instead, they made the best of a really bad situation, and that is what I found most compelling about Manzanar. How did they survive the loss of their freedom, the betrayal of their country, the theft of their way of life? How did they?
Photos and recordings tell a story of sadness and regret, but also of creativity and having fun, of being productive, and even of being patriotic.
|Working in stores, serving on the police force, producing a newspaper, providing medical care, going to school, cultivating crops, building furniture - they made a life|
|Internees were "recruited" from relocation centers, and "allowed" to serve "their" country in segregated units that took heavy casualties. They could die for their fellow citizens, they just couldn't live next door|
Manzanar is a desert - hot, cold, windy, barren. In the 20 minute film is a brief glimpse at the gardens that were built and planted and maintained and loved here. Of all I saw, this touched me the most. To make something so enchanting in such a harsh place, sings of the spirit of these people.
Peaceful gardens built in a time of war
|Ponds unearthed from years of mud and blowing sand show the loving detail|
|Boulders selected for size, color and shape transformed this area into a beautiful and tranquil oasis|
|Rock as art in the small kitchen garden pond|
|Surviving harshness by finding beauty - I think that's how.....|