On the Road to Poston 2011

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Monument Dedicated at WWII Relocation Camp

 October 7, 1992

From Associated Press

POSTON, Ariz. — More than 1,400 people gathered on an Indian reservation in the desert Tuesday to dedicate a monument where the government built the largest of 10 camps used to intern 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry during World War II.

     The three-story-high, concrete obelisk was built on the former site of the Poston War Relocation Center, where nearly 20,000 Japanese immigrants and their U.S.-born children lived behind barbed wire from 1942 to 1945. Included were 1,851 Japanese-Americans from Orange County, most of them farmer

     "Fifty years ago, the failed leadership of our country condemned guiltless people into concentration camps," said George K. Ikeda, 70, a former internee (214-4-B) from Emmaus, Pa., who spoke at the ceremony.

     The commemoration came 50 years after President Roosevelt signed an order Feb. 19, 1942, paving the way for the forcible evacuation of Japanese-Americans from the West Coast on the grounds that they were a threat to national security. It wasn't until 1983 that a government commission determined that not a single documented act of espionage or sabotage was committed by a Japanese-American on the West Coast.

     The ceremony came less than two weeks after President Bush signed legislation authorizing an additional $400 million to complete reparations payments to those interned and relocated during the war. Each person who spent time in the camps is due $20,000 from the government under a law passed in 1988.

     Part of the 1 1/2-hour ceremony paid tribute to the men from Poston who served in the Army during the war. Among them was Bruce Nagasaki, 68, of San Diego, who went into the Poston camp (36-4-B) at age 17 and was inducted in 1944.

     Nagasaki was asked why he joined the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, which fought in Europe and became the most decorated unit of the war.

     "You figured maybe the next generation would be luckier," he said. "Maybe they'd get more breaks than we did and be able to blend in better."

Source: http://articles.latimes.com/1992-10-07/news/mn-472_1_concentration-camps

Japanese-Americans Recall Harsh Life at WWII Camp
October 8, 1992

Ann Levin, The Associated Press

POSTON, Ariz. — Jimmy Takashima (Poston 322-8-C) had no idea what awaited him half a century ago when, after several months living in converted horse stables at a California racetrack, he got off the train in the middle of the Arizona desert.

     What he and other Japanese-Americans who were put into an internment camp during World War II found was a harsh and desolate place of sweltering tar-paper barracks set behind barbed wire.

     "We were brought into Poston about the middle of September. At that time it was very hot, windy and dusty," said Takashima, 78, of San Diego.

     "When you went to the bathroom in the middle of the night, you could hear the coyotes howling," said Rose Yamauchi, 55, also of San Diego, who was 4 when her family was sent to Poston.

     On Tuesday, Takashima and Yamauchi were among 1,400 people from around the country who gathered to dedicate a monument at the site of the Poston War Relocation Center, the largest of the camps used to intern people of Japanese ancestry during the war.

     The three-story concrete obelisk cost $300,000, raised through donations. It was built with volunteer labor.

     The commemoration came more than 50 years after President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed an order paving the way for the evacuation of some 120,000 Japanese-Americans from the West Coast on the grounds they were a threat to national security.

     "Fifty years ago the failed leadership of our country condemned guiltless people into concentration camps," George K. Ikeda (214-4-B), 70, of Emmaus, Pa., said at Tuesday's dedication. The presidential order "legalized racism and made the accident of birth a crime."

     The Poston Memorial Monument Committee had originally planned to build a Japanese-style pagoda on the site but changed the design for fear of anti-Japanese sentiment, said George S. Oki (229-13-A), co-chairman of the committee.

     Instead, the bottom third of the monument resembles a Japanese stone lantern, which is topped by a 20-foot shaft that towers over the scrubland ringed on all sides by rugged mountains.

     Poston and Manzanar, in the Eastern High Sierra, were the first of 10 such relocation camps. One other camp was built in Arizona; the rest were in Arkansas, Utah, Wyoming, Idaho and California.

     From 1942 to 1945 Poston was home to nearly 20,000 Japanese immigrants and their U.S.-born children. They lived in blocks of wooden barracks, with communal bathrooms and laundry rooms for every 14 barracks.

     Very little remains of the three camps--Poston I, II and III--that sprawled over 71,000 acres of the Colorado River Indian Reservation in western Arizona, about 80 miles south of the gambling resort of Laughlin, Nev.

Source: http://articles.latimes.com/1992-10-08/local/me-667_1_relocation-center

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