“Manzanar National Historic Site was established to preserve the stories of the nearly 120,000 Japanese Americans during World War II and to serve as a reminder to this and future generations of the fragility of American civil liberties.”
Manzanar the Spanish word for apple orchard is located in the Owens Valley in California on highway 395. In 1942 the U.S. Army leased 6,200 acres for the camp. A total of 10 relocation centers were built in remote locations across the United States. About two-thirds of all Japanese Americans interned at Manzanar were American citizens by birth. The barracks were surrounded by barbed wire and eight guard towers this used only 500 acres the rest was agriculture fields sewage treatment plant, guard housing and a reservoir. 10,000 Japanese Americans lived in 504 barracks organized into 36 blocks. A single 20′ x 25′ room was home to any combination of 8 individuals and contained an oil stove, a single hanging light bulb, cots, blankets, and mattresses filled with straw. For work internees worked digging irrigation canals and ditches, tended acres of fruits and vegetables, and raised chickens, hogs, and cattle. They made clothes and furniture for themselves and netting and experimental rubber for the military. From September 1942 to November 1945. All that suspicion and yet no Japanese Americans were ever charged with espionage. (Information included is from Manzanar National Monument pamphlet.). My grandparents had child hood friends that were sent to Japanese internment camps, they remember when they were taken away and are still friends with some of them now.
After work this morning we packed the car and headed north. Up 395 toward family it has been a while since we have had an educational stop so when Manzanar was recommended by my grandparents we made it a priority.
They must have disassembled the camp at the end of the war. The only buildings standing are two replica barracks and an original mess hall. The cemetery and a few of the gardens are still standing although the gardens are all dried up and desolate like the all of the surrounding area. Now we have ducked into Nevada with the the last hours of 2014 ticking away.