Manzanar Committee Lauds Manzanar NHS Volunteers Saburo and Ann Sasaki

Saburo (right) and Ann Sasaki (left) received the Hartzog Enduring Service Award from National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis (center)
in Washington D.C. on August 9, 2016.
(click to view larger image)
National Park Service photo

LOS ANGELES — The Manzanar Committee congratulates Saburo and Ann Sasaki on receiving the National Park Service’s Hartzog Enduring Service Award, recognizing their tremendous volunteer work at the Manzanar National Historic Site.

Joined by Superintendent Bernadette Johnson and Volunteer Coordinator Carrie Andresen, the award was presented to Saburo and Ann by National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis in Washington, D.C. on August 9.

“This year bridges the celebratory 100th anniversary of the National Park Service and the eve of the somber 75th anniversary (2017) of Japanese Americans being removed from their homes and communities,” the National Park Service said, in a statement. “The Manzanar staff nominated Saburo and Ann for the Enduring Service award because there is no more fitting time to recognize two exceptional volunteers whose lives bridge these two contrasting milestones in U.S. History. Saburo and Ann hope that one day their children and grandchildren will carry on their volunteer service at Manzanar.”

For each of the last eleven years, the Sasaki’s have travelled 2,250 miles each way to Manzanar from their home in Rochester Hills, Michigan to volunteer from mid-April through mid-June.

“Saburo spends most of his time talking with visitors, answering questions, and presenting interpretive and educational programs for up to 1,500 people each year,” the National Park Service said. “Ann staffs the visitor center, assists with Manzanar History Association operations, and has completed dozens of major projects for Manzanar’s library, museum, archives, oral history, and photo collections. Together, they have volunteered more than 3,000 hours. They also present programs around the country.”

Saburo was incarcerated at Manzanar during World War II, having been forcibly removed from his family’s farm in San Fernando at seven years old. He attended second, third and fourth grades at Manzanar before his family left the camp for Cleveland, Ohio in October 1945.

Saburo and Ann Sasaki, shown here at the Manzanar
National Historic Site, May 2016.
(click to view larger image)
National Park Service photo

Saburo would eventually meet Ann in Cleveland, where they both became engineers for General Motors.

“As a Chinese American woman, Ann has the unique burden of interpreting history she is presumed to have endured in Manzanar,” the National Park Service said. “As Ann says, “The story is not just worth telling, it must be told.” Both Saburo and Ann make history come alive for every visitor they encounter.”

“Saburo and Ann’s volunteer efforts are remarkable and I hope they inspire others,” said Johnson. “Each spring, Sab is requested by many teachers to share his personal stories of life in Manzanar with their students.”

Manzanar Committee Co-Chair Jenny Chomori noted the Sasaki’s dedication and the vital role they’ve played at Manzanar for years.

“We applaud Saburo and Ann Sasaki on receiving the Hartzog Enduring Service Award,” she said. “Their dedication to the education of the incarceration of Japanese Americans has been endless. Through Saburo’s talks with teachers, students and other visitors about camp life, and through Ann’s continual work with Manzanar’s library, archives, oral history, and photo collection, they have been instrumental in ensuring that visitors leave the Manzanar National Historic Site with a deeper knowledge than when they arrived, which is exactly what we’ve always wanted.”

“I remember the Sasaki’s at a teachers’ conference at Manzanar where they interacted with the teachers and brought history alive with stories of camp,” she added. “It is also amazing that they travel every year from Rochester Hills, Michigan to Manzanar in April and help out during the annual Manzanar Pilgrimage. We thank the National Park Service for honoring the Sasaki’s, and most of all, congratulations to Saburo and Ann on this fine achievement. We can’t thank them enough.”

The Manzanar Committee is dedicated to educating and raising public awareness about the incarceration and violation of civil rights of persons of Japanese ancestry during World War II and to the continuing struggle of all peoples when Constitutional rights are in danger. A non-profit organization that has sponsored the annual Manzanar Pilgrimage since 1969, along with other educational programs, the Manzanar Committee has also played a key role in the establishment and continued development of the Manzanar National Historic Site. For more information, check out our blog at https://blog.manzanarcommittee.org, call us at (323) 662-5102, and e-mail us at info@manzanarcommittee.org. You can also follow the Manzanar Commitee on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube.

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One Response to Manzanar Committee Lauds Manzanar NHS Volunteers Saburo and Ann Sasaki

  1. Susan Muto Knight says:

    I met Ann last April on my first visit to Manzanar at the Visitor’s Center. It was the day before the Pilgrimage and my husband and I had just experienced an extraordinary meeting with Jeff Burton and Mark Hachtmann, in which I shared some stories of my father’s Manzanar experiences with them for the historic sites records. (My father’s family lived on a farm in San Fernando as I now see they have in common with Saburo’s family background.) After our visit with Jeff and Mark, which left me emotionally overwhelmed, we were leaving through the book store area of the center when a woman behind the counter said to me as we passed by, “I heard what you said about your dad”. I thanked her and asked what her name is. It is these random acts of kindness like Ann expressed to us in just a few words, that stayed with me and meant so much.

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