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45th Annual Manzanar Pilgrimage

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avatar 45th Annual Manzanar Pilgrimage
May 14, 2014 11:33AM
Manzanar National Historic Site (CA)

Nearly a thousand people attended the Manzanar Committee’s 45th Annual Pilgrimage on Saturday, April 26th. This year’s pilgrimage, entitled “A Memory…A Monument…A Movement,” coincided with the fiftieth anniversary of the Civil Rights Act as well as the tenth anniversary of the grand opening of the Manzanar Visitor Center.

Drummers from UCLA Kyodo Taiko kicked off the program as representatives carried in pilgrimage banners for each of the camps. Pacific West Regional Director Chris Lehnertz provided the NPS welcome and introduced Bernadette Lovato as the new superintendent of Manzanar National Historic Site.

Dr. Eileen Tamura, a professor at the University of Hawaii Manoa, was the keynote speaker. Dr. Arthur Hansen and Mas Okui were honored with the 2014 Sue Kunitomi Embrey Legacy Award. The pilgrimage program concluded with the traditional interfaith service and Ondo dance, after which park rangers offered walking tours of Manzanar.

On Saturday evening, nearly 200 college students and others attended the Manzanar At Dusk “MAD” program at Lone Pine High School, participating in intergenerational discussions with former internees and a former Manzanar teacher. MAD was co-sponsored by the Manzanar Committee and the Nikkei (Japanese American) Student Unions of Cal State Fullerton, Cal State Long Beach, Cal Poly Pomona, UCLA, and UCSD.

Other weekend events included a Friday evening reception at the Eastern California Museum sponsored by the Independence Chamber of Commerce and the Friends of Eastern California Museum.

On Saturday morning, Madelon Arai Yamamoto and volunteer archeologist Mary Farrell greeted visitors at the recently restored Arai family fish pond in Block 33. Water flowed into the pond for the first time since 1945. Two volunteers staffed a Junior Ranger table in the visitor center. Manzanar History Association hosted book signings by Dr. Tamura Sunday between her talks on “In Defense of Justice: Joseph Kurihara and the Japanese American Struggle for Equality.”

The park also hosted the annual selected artists from the Henry Fukuhara Annual Alabama Hills and Manzanar Workshop art show and sale. Manzanar issued one special use permit and seven film permits, including the History Channel’s “10 Things You Don’t Know” program.

While the weather was cooler than in past years, NPS staff provided large tents and water stations at the event and around the site. The park staged an ambulance with two paramedic teams and had an additional EMT available in the visitor center. There were no medical or law enforcement incidents.

The Manzanar staff was assisted by four Death Valley employees, including Superintendent Kathy Billings, and 27 Manzanar volunteers.

The pilgrimage takes place each year on the last Saturday in April. All are welcome. More information is posted on the Manzanar Committee’s blog at http://blog.manzanarcommittee.org.
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