42nd Annual Manzanar Pilgrimage: The Passage of Time

Editor’s Note: UCLA Nikkei Student Union and UCLA Kyodo Taiko member Yoshimi Kawashima participated in her second Manzanar Pilgrimage this past April, at the 42nd Annual Manzanar Pilgrimage. She shares her thoughts about her experiences with us below.

Yoshimi Kawashima
Photo: Gann Matsuda

by Yoshimi Kawashima

The dust stirred gently in the opaque light of the rising sun, drifting along the near empty road. Eyes still drowsy from the four-hour trip, mind still struggling to awake from rising with the dawn light, we finally reached the parking lot which would lead to the Manzanar National Historic Site—my second time at the annual Manzanar Pilgrimage since my freshman year at UCLA.

When I went to my first Manzanar Pilgrimage in April 2009, I had absolutely no idea what to expect. I was only newly exposed to the history of Japanese American Internment, and now, physically stepping into the forlorn desert they had once been forced to call home brought forth mixed emotions.

What does it mean to be a (Japanese) American of this generation? Read more of this post

42nd Annual Manzanar Pilgrimage: Everyone Has A Story To Tell, But Not Everyone Has A Chance To Tell Their Story

Editor’s Note: After the 41st Annual Manzanar Pilgrimage, UCLA undergraduate Jaymie Takeshita reflected on her experiences at her first Manzanar Pilgrimage and Manzanar At Dusk program in a piece that has received rave reviews from readers, 41st Annual Manzanar Pilgrimage: A Letter To Obaa-chan. Takeshita’s involvement last year inspired her to become more deeply involved in this year’s events, and, once again, she shared her thoughts about her experiences with us.

by Jaymie Takeshita

Jaymie Takeshita
Photo: Gann Matsuda

I still cannot explain why I was so nervous as I waited for my great-aunt to pick up the phone about five days before the 42nd Annual Manzanar Pilgrimage on April 30, 2011. Maybe it was because I wasn’t sure what I wanted to ask. Maybe it was because I wasn’t sure if she’d be willing to talk. Or maybe it was because I wasn’t sure if she would like my surprise. Her cheerful voice answered the phone with a friendly, “hello?”

“Auntie Pat, this is Jaymie,” I said, trying to cover my nerves with an equally friendly voice.

“Jaymie!” she said, excitedly, “It’s so wonderful to hear your voice.” Read more of this post

42nd Annual Manzanar Pilgrimage/2011 Manzanar At Dusk: Keeping The Manzanar Story Alive

by Ashley Honma

UCLA Nikkei Student Union member Ashley Honma, in her fourth year at UCLA, made her first visit to Manzanar during the 42nd Annual Manzanar Pilgrimage and the 2011
Manzanar At Dusk program on April 30, 2011.
Photo: Gann Matsuda

I wish I could say that I could relate, but honestly, that would not have been the truth.

I knew about the internment camps. I knew about Executive Order 9066. I knew about the hate, the scorn, and the racism. I also knew about the injustice, the cruelty, and the wrongdoing. Yet, there was still a part of me that could not relate to it all.

My grandparents were born and raised in Hawaii. As a result, everything that I had come to know about Japanese Americans during World War II stemmed from their experiences on the islands.

My grandma remembers seeing the Japanese planes fly over Waipahu on that infamous morning of December 7, 1941. My grandpa served as a Japanese translator for the 100th Infantry Battalion. They remember the rationed food and blackouts that took place every night.

As you can see, none of them were put into the internment camps, because Japanese Americans were needed in Hawaii to sustain the economic labor force. Read more of this post

Mako Nakagawa Delivers Keynote Address At 42nd Annual Manzanar Pilgrimage

The following is the text of the keynote address delivered at the 42nd Annual Manzanar Pilgrimage on April 30, 2011, by Mako Nakagawa.

Mako Nakagawa delivered the keynote address at the
42nd Annual Manzanar Pilgrimage on April 30, 2011,
at the Manzanar National Historic Site.
Photo: Gann Matsuda

Good afternoon.

I am very pleased to be able to join you on this wonderful occasion. We stand here today on sacred ground. If we listen, we can hear the cries of pain and agony, feel the confusion and worries, soak in the laughter and hope, and be touched by the strife to maintain collective dignity and courage. This land holds many, many stories which we must not let fade without being recorded.

The Manzanar Committee chose four Champions of Civil Rights as the theme for this year’s Pilgrimage. These people were not born super heroes. They were simply ordinary people who managed to accomplish extraordinary feats in the protection of our civil rights who were true to themselves and true to their own unique convictions.

They had courage under pressure. Everyone here today benefited from their efforts. Some may not recognize the names of Fred Korematsu, William Hohri, Frank Emi and Aiko Herzig Yoshinaga, but we are all in for a treat when we read about them in our program. Let the stories of these great role models inspire you. These three men are now deceased but their names will live on. Read more of this post