UPDATE: Poston barrack wood

"The internment of Japanese-Americans about 70 years ago should remain forever etched in people’s minds, so as not to be repeated ", said  Franklin Abe (Poston 305-11-B), a longtime Tulare County businessman and former Poston, Arizona camp 3 prisoner.

     Dennis and Bonnie Simonian dedicated a very special 25 foot high permanent obelisk tower, named the "Soul Consoling Tower" as a memorial to all Japanese-Americans who endured the forced removal from their homes and years of incarceration during WW II. The tower was completed earlier this year in April and the public Dedication Ceremony was held at the Simonian Farms in southeast of Fresno, California on November 19, 2013.
     The incarceration of more than 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry living in the western states was the result of Executive Order 9066 signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on February 19, 1942. Nearly two-thirds of the prisoners were American citizens who were removed from their residence and neighborhoods and forced to live in wooden barracks in the desolate areas in the interior of the United States. The temperature was well over 125 degrees in August 1942 at the time when the Tulare County and Fresno County areas were evacuated to Poston, Arizona at camp 3.
      Simonian's "Soul Consoling Tower" is constructed from the WW II Poston, Arizona concentration camp barrack wood by Daniels Wood Products in Paso Robles, a Tree House contractor.  Many truckloads of the barrack lumber was transported out from the Parker Valley in Arizona.   
     Dennis Simonian sought recommendations on the concept of his very emotional project from several local Japanese Americans with a personal interest in the Poston, Arizona concentration camp: Robert Shintaku (Poston 219-2-C), Rev. Sab Masada, Mrs. Marion (Nakamura) Masada (211-1-B), and Dianne Kiyomoto, who collectively, have experience with the local Assembly Center projects, incarceration at Poston, Arizona, or serve as Poston Community Alliance Board Members. 
      Regarding the tower, “It’s open at the top. The hope is that visitors will even feel a symbolic loss of their own freedoms for a moment or two,” the plaque reads. “But as they look to the open sky, there’s a message of hope, a hope that a free future is near, a veritable light at the end of the dark tunnel that one leaves behind them, but never forgets!”
     "An obelisk built from the very same wood that once held our fellow Americans captive is a compelling concept,” it says on the plaque. “Our design takes it a couple steps further by allowing observers the opportunity to also be surrounded by the same wood as they enter into the structure and try to imagine the feelings the Japanese-Americans must have shared, feelings like claustrophobia, and that there’s no way out, and betrayal by their fellow Americans as they were denied the same freedom that the rest of America was fighting for,” part of the plaque reads.
      Franklin Abe said his father purchased the ranch in 1939, which has since evolved into Abe-El Produce, located at 42143 Road 120, northwest of Orosi. The Abe family’s assets, including their land holdings, were taken care of by others while they were incarcerated. When they returned in 1945, the family was able to pick up where they had left off, and the transition was relatively easy.  However, many other Japanese-Americans weren’t so fortunate.  “A lot of these people didn’t even have a place to come back to,” Abe said. "These are events that should never be allowed to happen again", he added. “It was a bad situation,” Abe said, “but most of us made the best of it.”
     Abe, was born in Dinuba and graduated from Dinuba High School after returning home from the Poston incarceration ordeal.  When Dennis Simonian told him of his plans to build the Poston obelisk, Abe said he told him he definitely needed to bring it to the public’s attention.
    Dennis Simonian, now 70 year old, began farming when he was 16 years old, and bought fruit from local farmers to sell. The Simonian family has farmed at Clovis and Jensen Avenues, and began in 1901 when Bagdasar Simonian immigrated to the region from Armenia. Today, his descendants farm about 80 acres and produce more than 180 crops that are sold at the family-run fruit stand. 

     There were five Japanese-American families who taught Dennis Simonian a great deal about farming, and he feels like he owes them a tremendous debt of gratitude. Those five families, who served as mentors were: Shigeo (Kinuko) Hayashi (Gila, AZ), Masao (Hanako) Hayashi (Gila, AZ), Bob (Masako) Nakadoi Mochizuki (Tule Lake, CA), Ted (Irene) Takahashi (Poston 222-4-C), and Yosh (Yo) Takahashi (Poston 222-4-C).
      A plaque on the memorial reads, “These families were instrumental in teaching me, from the very young age of 16, the value of hard work, honesty, the importance of setting goals in life and becoming the farmer and person that I am today. They graciously shared their passion and knowledge of farming, regardless of the fact that I was a young and upcoming competitor in the retail produce business."

     ~Domo arigato gozaimasu, Mr. Dennis Simonian~
              ...We thank you...

"Thoughtful' reminder, Lumber from Japanese internment camp used to build tower" by Michael Miyamoto, Dinuba Sentinel. November 14, 2013 

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