Friday, July 6, 2007

Manzanar

“Make Manzanar even better physically, intellectually, and spiritually” by volunteering, asserts the NPS website. It is one of the only two internment sites that the National Park Service maintains. Manzanar’s interpretive center is a flood of experiences that will linger with the participant. You can stamp your passport and even become a junior ranger. Money from the Californian Japanese American community and its placement along a busy highway on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada makes Manzanar the “model camp town” and the representative of the internment. A visit to Manzanar is not, however, a visit to the other nine. No other sites are being reconstructed. The Park Service erected a watchtower on the exact location of one of the original eight. The internee’s elaborate ponds are being unearthed and rejuvenated. A mess hall has been moved into an original placement and is being refurbished for use in the “Typical Block” exhibit. The auto tour offers an overview of key sites: Toyo Miyatake’s residence in Block 20, the Children’s Village (the only internment camp orphanage), the Cemetery with its monument that has become the icon of Manzanar, and the camouflage net factory. In the lead-up to the Manzanar Revolt, Recycling and Garbage trucks flying Black Dragon flags endeavored to stop work at the camouflage net factory by threatening workers. Following the Revolt, workers at various jobs throughout the camp refused to show up for several weeks and the net factory never reopened. Manzanar National Historic Site, California, May 2007.

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