Memorial bill headed to Oval Office

japanese internment.jpg

A bill giving the Japanese-American memorial national park status passed the House today and is now on its way to the president’s desk. Read my story below.

Rep. Jay Inslee, an islander and the bill’s prime sponsor, told me today that federal recognition of the memorial will help Americans “never allow the power of fear to overcome the power of liberty.”

Take a look at Jay Inslee’s speech in support of the bill here.

Japanese-American memorial passes House
By Tristan Baurick

The Bainbridge Island Japanese American memorial is only a signature away from designation in the national park system.

The U.S. House of Representatives voted Tuesday to make the Nidoto Nai Yoni memorial on Eagle Harbor a satellite of the Minidoka Internment National Monument in southern Idaho. Passed by the Senate earlier this month, the island memorial now awaits the signature and final approval of President George Bush.

“This will serve as a monument to all Americans of all future generations that we should never ever allow the power of fear overcome the power of liberty,” said Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Bainbridge, said shortly before final passage.

The memorial marks the place where 227 Japanese-Americans were marched to the Eagledale ferry dock and shipped off to internment camps in rural Idaho and California’s Mojave Desert for much of World War II.

The island’s Japanese-Americans – two-thirds of whom were citizens – were the first of what eventually grew to almost 13,000 Washington state residents incarcerated without trial.

Inslee was the prime sponsor of the memorial bill that initially passed the House in February 2007. After spending more than a year in the Senate, the bill returned to the House this month and was attached to a larger package of bills. The package includes the Wild Sky Wilderness Act, which would designate almost 110,000 acres of national forest in east Snohomish County as wilderness.

“It’s high time we get this (memorial) passed,” Inslee said. He noted that some former internees are nearing their hundredth birthdays and have long awaited federal recognition of the memorial.

Inslee expects the president to approve the memorial’s designation soon.

The memorial borders the west edge of Pritchard Park on the harbor’s south shore. Recent work at the memorial includes the installation of hand-hewn wood structures, a parking area and winding boardwalks with views of the harbor.

Inclusion in the national park system will give the site a higher profile and may lead to an infusion of federal dollars to help complete the $5 million memorial project, said Frank Kitamoto, president of the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Community.

“Having the memorial in the park system will make it more likely that people will come to the site,” said Kitamoto, who was a toddler when he and his family left the island for internment camps. “This will help make sure our story gets out.”

Part of that story includes the internee’s return to the island, where many were farmers. In the Kitamoto family’s case, the islanders welcomed their return.

“The memorial also shows the humanism and courage of the people who lived here,” he said. “We have a very special community that shows how people can get along even if they have different appearances.”

Despite the hardships the island’s Japanese-Americans endured, Inslee said the memorial isn’t an indictment of wartime America.

“It’s not to judge folks in the 1940s,” he said. “It’s a healing moment for the community and a shining light for the future.”

3 thoughts on “Memorial bill headed to Oval Office

  1. Regarding the cropped photo accompanying the article, this is of Tule Lake Segregation Center, and the women pictured are being transported to the Department of Justice Internment camp at Crystal City, Texas because they have voluntarily renounced their American citizenship and wish to be repatriated back to Japan.

    Tule Lake Segregation Center housed Japanese and Japanese Americans whose loyalty was with Japan.

    Tule Lake Segregation Center and the real Deptarment of Justice Internment Camps, such as Crystal City, Texas used the fencing as shown in this photo.

    The Relocation Centers such as Manzanar and Minidoka did not use this type of fencing. Relocation Centers primarily used three strand cattle wire as perimeter fencing that was routinely crossed.

    The exception could have been the fencing located at the front gate entrance to the centers.

    Could it be this photo was used to illicit an emotional knee-jerk reaction from Kitsap Sun readers with only a passive knowledge of this history?

    Did the Sun know anything about the photo before using it?

    It’s amazing what a little historical context can do.

    Here’s a link to an uncropped picture of the same photo.

  2. Rep. Inslee used the dicredited earmark sneak tactic to get this bill in the bundle of bills.
    Encouarage him to also amend the legislation to show that Japanese/Japanese Americans had spies for Japan in their midst.Including Kitsap County.The radio transmission decoding system,MAGIC,was top secret.Rather than reveal the intercept capacity it was decided all people of Japanese ancestry must be relocated.This is also a part of the relocation story that is covered up by history revisionists and their sycophants like Inslee.

  3. Resubmitted comments:

    Actually the issue with the photo is a great metaphor for the entire problem with the internment memorial. The Sun appears to have chosen to use an extract an extract, a detail of the entire photograph. While I am not sure what motives, if any, the Sun had for using the smaller picture. It further appears to me someone could use the extract, the detail, for reasons to paint an emotion. This is exactly what I believe the supporters of the memorial have done, pulled off part of the history and represent the part as the whole. For the memorial, this is ridiculous history and it undercuts whatever aguement they make for healing.

    Thanks Kitsap Sun for the great metaphor of how this story is so poorly handled by the press and supporters. Now as always this is my opinion. Freedom of opinion and speech is important in the newspapers and in our discussion. Do you agree Bainbridge Islander?

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