Short Story: Desert Birth – June 1944

The following is the first of two short stories by Yosh Golden, who was born behind the barbed wire at Manzanar during World War II. This story, along with June 1997: High School Yearbook is the foundation for the upcoming short film, The Song, based on Manzanar, and the Japanese American Incarceration story. Originally published in Northwestern University’s Triquarterly Online (Issue 140, Summer/Fall 2011). It is reprinted here with permission.

Former Manzanar incarceree Yosh Golden (seated at left, on a chair),
who was born at Manzanar during World War II, shares her knowledge
and experience during a small group discussion at the 2013
Manzanar At Dusk program.
(click above to view larger image)
Photo: Gann Matsuda/Manzanar Committee

by Yosh Golden

My father, Yoshizo Yoshimura, born in Salt Lake City, was 26 at the time of my birth. My mother, Sachie, twenty-three, was born in Portland, Oregon. Both were American citizens, Japanese Americans—now confined to a camp in the California desert, Manzanar Relocation Center, surrounded by barbed wire and machine-gun turrets.

On June 14, 1944, my mother stepped out of Apartment 1 of Building 2 in Block 20. She and my father left their three-year-old son, Johnny, asleep on a government-issue blanket and cot back in the tarpaper barracks in the care of a young woman in Apartment 2, who lived just on the other side of a blanket partition. Holding my father’s arm, Sachie crossed the sandy walkways to another hastily constructed green-wood barrack that had been converted into a hospital. Sagebrush and sand devils kicked about by the constant wind blew across her pathway.

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Manzanar Committee Calls On Los Angeles City Council To Designate Site of Tuna Canyon Detention Station As A Historic-Cultural Monument

You can help urge the Los Angeles City Council to designate the site of the Tuna Canyon Detention Station as a Historic Cultural Mounment by signing the petition. For more information and to sign, go to

Overhead view of the Tuna Canyon Detention Station
(click above to view larger image)
Photo: M.H. Scott, Officer In Charge, Tuna Canyon Detention Station.
Courtesy David Scott and the Little Landers Historical Society

LOS ANGELES — On June 8, the Manzanar Committee announced their support of efforts by the Historic Tuna Canyon Detention Station Coalition, and Los Angeles City Council member Richard Alarcon, to designate the site of the former Tuna Canyon Detention Station as a Historical Cultural Monument.

Tuna Canyon, located in Tujunga (Northeast San Fernando Valley), originally a Civilian Conservation Corps camp, became a high security prison within days after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. 1,490 Issei (first generation Japanese Americans; immigrants from Japan who had been prevented from becoming United States citizens by racist laws) were unjustly incarcerated at Tuna Canyon prior to being moved to one of the permanent confinement sites operated by the War Relocation Authority (WRA) or the Department of Justice/Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) during World War II.

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“Speaking Of Camp” Event – Photos, Video

This article was originally published on December 16, 2012. It has been updated to include video from the event.

Japanese Americans who were unjustly incarcerated in American concentration camps during World War II are shown here telling their
stories at Speaking Of Camp, an event held at the St. Francis Xavier Catholic Center in Los Angeles’ Little Toyko, on December 1, 2012.
(click above to view larger image)
Photo: Alan Broch

LOS ANGELES — On December 1, 2012, the Friends of Manzanar sponsored Speaking Of Camp…, an event held at St. Francis Xavier Japanese Catholic Center (formerly Maryknoll/Japanese Catholic Center) in Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo.

Co-sponsored by the Manzanar Committee, the event was part of an ongoing effort to capture the significance of individual stories of those who came through the World War II camp experience.

Videographers also recorded incarceree stories and memories of their days behind the barbed wire.

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Manzanar Committee Statement On The Passing Of UCLA Professor Emeritus Alexander Saxton

Alexander Saxton
Photo courtesy
UCLA Department
of History

LOS ANGELES — The Manzanar Committee expresses its deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Alexander Saxton, who passed away on August 20, 2012, in Lone Pine, California, at the age of 93.

Saxton, a UCLA History Professor Emeritus, former Acting Director of the UCLA Asian American Studies Center (UCLA AASC) and former Chair of the Faculty Advisory Committee of the UCLA AASC, was a tremendous supporter of Asian American Studies.

“[Saxton’s involvement with the UCLA AASC] turned out to be one of the most demanding [and rewarding] experiences of my life,” he said, according to a statement issued by David Yoo, Director, UCLA AASC. “Being a proponent of Ethnic Studies at UCLA in the 1970s and ’80s was good combat training.” Read more of this post


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