Monday, October 10, 2011
Poston is located 15 miles south of Parker. From May 5, 1942, to Nov. 28, 1945, approximately 17,867 people of Japanese ancestry were incarcerated in three camps. The internees were from California, Washington, Oregon and a section of Arizona. They were forced into the camps because of the declaration of Executive Order 9066 signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt Feb. 19, 1942, on the grounds those of “Japanese blood” were a threat to national security. Most of the internees were American citizens by birth and were stripped of their citizenship and were classified as “non-aliens.”
The Poston Monument was designed by Sacrament architect Ray Takata. The monument is 30 feet high and 7 feet wide with a hexagonal base in the form of a Japanese stone lantern. Each side tells the story of monument and the history of the Colorado River Indian Tribes who gave the Poston camp internees a 99-year lease for the land the monument is erected.
On one side was the list of former internees who joined US Army, the 442nd RCT, who died in combat.
It was private contributions from Poston Camp I, II and III internees and friends who wanted a memorial and the Poston Memorial Monument Committee was created.
Ted Kobata was construction chief and his Camp II crew consisted of Mas Sunahara, Sid Arase, Jim Kobata, Jim Namba, Susumu Satow, Jun Sunahara, Duke Takeuchi and Kay Urakawa. The monument was dedicated Oct. 6, 1992.
Several years later a kiosk was built, led by Ted Kobata. Ted Kobata was in attendance, as well as author Kiyo Sato who wrote “Dandelion Through the Crack.” Her memoir is about trip from California to Poston. The book was later published with a new title “Kiyo’s Story.” Serving as emcee was Tak Hatmatsu and giving the invocation was Rev. Dr. Paul Nagano.
Sato spoke about the importance of writing down the Poston camp history. “History is valuable, just jot down memories and place in a file. It’s important to let the younger generation to know about the internment camps. At age 80 I published my book; I encourage you to keep the memories,” Sato said. She added, “Ted and I are octogenarians, it means we’re old! It’s your monument. Ted and I won’t be around forever. You young people should assist in the upkeep.” The audience enjoyed her humor and straightforwardness.
She noted twice a year committee members come to Poston to do maintenance or clean up. “We have this monument to recognize the terrible wrong,” Sato added.
Kobata had a list of people who wanted to thank. The first was the Parker Pioneer for keeping the Poston history alive. He thanked CRIT Building Inspector Ambrose Howard Jr., for the cooperation in the construction of the monument and kiosk.
Former CRIT Planner Ron Moore was instrumental in relaying the committee’s idea of the monument.
Kobata enjoyed working with the late Tom Claw, Navajo Codetalker; and the late Connor Byestewa Jr., who directed CRIT Environmental Office. He appreciated CRIT Fire Department Chief Kitty Little for opening up the fire station for the public. Kobata recognized the Bureau of Indian of Affairs who helped with the building of the tower by using a crane. He also appreciated the efforts of Amelia Flores, director of the CRIT Library-Archives.
Sato told the crowd they needed to visit the library and see the Poston history collection.
The program ended and people enjoyed seeing old friends. For some it was the first time to visit Poston since being incarcerated. There was a positive spirit and all were looking forward to the next reunion.