Tag Archives: manzanar historic site

Manzanar Committee honoring Gracey

Former Inyo County Supervisor Bob Gracey To Receive 2016 Sue Kunitomi Embrey Legacy Award

Submitted by the Manzanar Committee
April 4, 2016

LOS ANGELES — On March 31, the Manzanar Committee announced that Owens Valley native Robert W. “Bob” Gracey has been chosen as the 2016 recipient of the Sue Kunitomi Embrey Legacy Award.

The award, named after the late chair of the Manzanar Committee who was also one of the founders of the annual Manzanar Pilgrimage, and was the driving force behind the creation of the Manzanar National Historic Site, will be presented at the 47th Annual Manzanar Pilgrimage, scheduled for 12:00 PM PDT on Saturday, April 30, 2016, at the Manzanar National Historic Site, located on U.S. Highway 395 in California’s Owens Valley, between the towns of Lone Pine and Independence (see map below).

Gracey, 87, born in Kearsarge (formerly a narrow gauge railroad station about five miles east of Independence, California), was elected in late 1992 to the Inyo County Board of Supervisors, representing the Fourth District, which includes the Manzanar National Historic Site.

Gracey served only one term, but he made Manzanar one of his top priorities immediately after taking office, most notably, the monumental tasks of the hazardous materials cleanup of the high school auditorium, one of the remaining original structures at Manzanar, that had been used by the County as a maintenance facility for decades (now the Visitor’s Center), along with the land exchange process that expanded the Manzanar National Historic Site from its original 500 acres to its current 813 acres.

“Those were two huge tasks that Bob took on right after he took office,” said Gann Matsuda, a member of the Manzanar Committee who also served on the Manzanar National Historic Site Advisory Commission from 1992-2002. “He played a major role in the hazmat cleanup of the Manzanar High School auditorium, and in the land exchange agreement that not only added an additional 313 acres to the site, but also allowed Inyo County to build a new, replacement maintenance facility.”

Few know of Gracey’s contributions to these projects, work that the first Superintendent of the Manzanar National Historic Site, Ross Hopkins, said was “…far more complicated than anything else I had done in the National Park Service over a long period of time.”

Gracey’s behind-the-scenes work was critical to the success of both projects.

“There are the people who get out in front, carrying the flag in the parade, and then there are those who are just on the fringes of the crowd, but are the ones who really got it done,” said Hopkins, who worked closely with Gracey. “In terms of his work on Manzanar, Bob was certainly one of those people. He got the big picture. He had his finger on the pulse of the projects.”

“Bob always had his finger on the pulse of the community, and he worked behind the scenes to grease the skids for me to get things done with County officials,” added Hopkins. “I was an unknown quantity in Inyo County, and when you come in as a federal employee in a rural area, they look askance at you until you prove yourself.”

Manzanar Committee Co-Chair Bruce Embrey said that Gracey was one of Manzanar’s unsung heroes.

“I know it’s a cliché, but Bob is really an unsung hero,” he said. “Bob exemplified the ideal of public service. What he did was essential to making the dream of the Manzanar National Historic Site a reality. We truly are pleased to be able to thank Bob for his vision and honor him for all of his hard work on behalf of the Manzanar National Historic Site.”

In addition to the afternoon event, the Manzanar At Dusk program follows that same evening, from 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM, at the Lone Pine High School auditorium, located at 538 South Main Street (U.S. Highway 395), in Lone Pine, nine miles south of the Manzanar National Historic Site, across the street from McDonald’s (see map below).

Manzanar At Dusk is co-sponsored by the Nikkei Student Unions at California State University, Long Beach, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, the University of California, Los Angeles, and the University of California, San Diego.

Through a creative presentation, small group discussions and an open mic session, Manzanar At Dusk participants will have the opportunity to learn about the experiences of those incarcerated in the camps. Participants will also be able to interact with former incarcerees in attendance to hear their personal stories, to share their own experiences, and discuss the relevance of the concentration camp experience to present-day events and issues.

The Manzanar Committee has also announced that bus transportation to the Pilgrimage from Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo is available.

The bus will depart at 7:00 AM, arriving at the Pilgrimage at approximately 11:30 AM, and will also take participants to the Visitor’s Center at the Manzanar National Historic Site following the afternoon program. The bus should arrive back in Los Angeles at approximately 8:30 PM.

Reservations will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. The non-refundable fare is $40.00 per seat, $30.00 for students and seniors. Complimentary fares are available for those who were incarcerated at any of the former American concentration camps or other confinement sites during World War II.

Anyone wishing to attend the Manzanar At Dusk program that evening should make other transportation arrangements.

Pilgrimage participants are advised to bring their own lunch, drinks and snacks, as there are no facilities to purchase food at the Manzanar National Historic Site (restaurants and fast food outlets are located in Lone Pine and Independence, which are nearby). Water will be provided at the site.

Both the Manzanar Pilgrimage and the Manzanar At Dusk programs are free and are open to the public. For more information, or to reserve a seat on the bus, call (323) 662-5102 or send e-mail to 47thpilgrimage@manzanarcommittee.org.

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. Follow their blog at http://blog.manzanarcommittee.org.

Robert Gracey Supervisor-HQ

Photo Credit: Official Inyo County Photo: Michael Cooke/Cooke’s Fine Photography.

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Manzanar shifting hours

New Hours for Manzanar Visitor Center

March 30, 2016

Beginning Friday, April 1, 2016, the Manzanar National Historic Site Visitor Center will be open from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily. The award-winning film Remembering Manzanar shows every 30 minutes from 10 am to 5 pm daily. The center features 8,000 square feet of exhibits as well as a bookstore operated by the non-profit Manzanar History Association.

After setting a record for visitation in 2015, I am pleased to announce that we will be keeping the visitor center open until 5:30 pm,” Superintendent Bernadette Johnson said.

­Visitors arriving between 9 and 10 a.m. can visit Block 14’s barracks and mess hall to learn about the personal experiences of individuals, families, and communities incarcerated at Manzanar. Exhibits feature extensive photos, documents, and quotes illustrating the challenges and changes people faced at Manzanar. Because the site itself is open from dawn to dusk, visitors can drive a 3-mile self-guiding tour or explore on foot. They can see a number of gardens and ponds built by Japanese Americans to beautify the dusty ground around their barracks and mess halls. Visitors can also explore century-old orchards from the pre-war town of Manzanar.

Manzanar National Historic Site is located at 5001 Hwy. 395, six miles south of Independence, California. Admission is free. For further information, please call (760) 878-2194 ext. 3310, visit our website at www.nps.gov/manz, or explore our pages for “ManzanarNationalHistoricSite” on Facebook and Instagram.

cover photo by Gary Young

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Manzanar, Can You Dig it!

Volunteers Invited to Archeology project at Manzanar

Project runs March 25-30

submitted by Manzanar Historic Site
March 15, 2016

Manzanar’s award-winning public archeology program provides exceptional opportunities to learn about the past and help preserve the site and its stories for the future. From March 25 through 30, 2016, volunteers have the unique opportunity to assist the National Park Service in uncovering and stabilizing Manzanar’s historic administration and staff housing area. Participants will learn about both the common and contrasting experiences of camp staff and incarcerees as well as the differences between Japanese landscaping aesthetics and “western” military-style landscaping.

Volunteer positions are available to anyone age 15 and over who is physically able to work outdoors in moderately strenuous activities. Volunteers will be digging with shovels and small hand tools, cutting and loading brush, using wheelbarrows, collecting rocks to reconstruct landscape features, painting rock alignments, and occasionally screening sediments to retrieve artifacts. Previous archeological experience is helpful, but not necessary. All volunteers need is an interest in history and a willingness to get dirty!

The work will be conducted outdoors, regardless of weather, from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. daily, including weekends. Volunteers may work any number of days or hours, but a full day or multiple days are preferred. Bring water, lunch, and work gloves, and wear sunscreen, a hat, and sturdy boots. Advance sign-up is required. Contact Cultural Resources Manager Jeff Burton at 760-878-2194 ext. 3305 or jeff_burton@nps.gov.

Manzanar National Historic Site is located is located at 5001 Hwy. 395, six miles south of Independence, California. Learn more on our website at website at www.nps.gov/manz or Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ManzanarNationalHistoricSite.

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Over 95,000 visit Manzanar in 2015

Manzanar Hosts Record number of Visitors in 2015

submitted by Manzanar National Historic Site

Over 95,000 people from throughout the United States and around the world visited Manzanar National Historic Site in 2015.  From near and far, youth and elders, first-time visitors and former incarcerees, all had a variety of opportunities to connect to the site, its stories, and each other.

“I’m happy to see so many people coming to learn about Manzanar,” Superintendent Bernadette Johnson said. “While the site is best known for its wartime history, its layers of the past echo the larger themes of American history, including the displacement of Native Americans, the settlement of ranchers and farmers, water wars, and the consequences of prejudice.” She continued, “These valuable lessons about social justice, racism and prejudice are critical.”

Manzanar’s 2015 visitation was nearly 23% higher than in 2014 and surpassed a 2009 record of 89,000. “Record visitation tests the site’s staffing capacity,” said Superintendent Johnson. “I’m grateful that we have a committed staff dedicated to providing high quality visitor experiences.”

In 2015, Manzanar opened  3,000 s.f. of new exhibits in two reconstructed barracks, hosted thousands of school children, and received more than 7,500 hours of service from 318 volunteers.
On a national level in 2016, Congress recently provided an increase in funding for national park units. Manzanar was the recipient of 2016 Centennial Challenge funding allowing the site to leverage these funds with donations from Friends of Manzanar and private donors to expand exhibits in Block 14. Congress is considering separate National Park Service Centennial legislation to further improve the national parks by encouraging philanthropy and volunteerism, while also allowing the National Park Service to improve visitor services and connect with a new generation of national park visitors.

Congress established Manzanar National Historic Site in 1992, the result of decades of efforts by Japanese Americans and others. Since then, the National Park Service has worked with scores of stakeholders to preserve and interpret Manzanar and its stories.  Visitors can explore the personal experiences of individuals, families, and communities incarcerated at Manzanar. The restored camp auditorium serves as a visitor center and houses extensive exhibits. Nearby, a World War II-era mess hall and two  reconstructed barracks highlight the challenges of daily life. An auto tour road circles the site, highlighting Japanese gardens, historic orchards, the cemetery, and more.

Manzanar is located at 5001 Hwy. 395, six miles south of Independence, California. For more information, please call 760-878-2194 ext. 3310 or visit our website at www.nps.gov/manz or Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ManzanarNationalHistoricSite.

Cover Photo by Gary Young.

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Manzanar sets new hours

New Hours for Manzanar Visitor Center

Beginning Sunday, October 18, 2015, the Visitor Center at Manzanar National Historic Site will open at 10 a.m. and close at 4:30 p.m. People arriving between 9 and 10 a.m. can visit the exhibits in Block 14’s barracks and mess hall, as well as drive or walk the square-mile site to see Japanese rock gardens and other features. A restroom is available at the historic Manzanar cemetery on the west side of the site. As always, the site itself is open from dawn to dusk.

In prior years, Manzanar went to winter hours of 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. beginning Nov. 1. Current staffing levels have necessitated shorter hours for the Visitor Center, but visitors still have the opportunity to learn about the personal experiences of individuals, families, and communities incarcerated at Manzanar in the nearby barracks. Those exhibits feature extensive photos, documents, and quotes illustrating the challenges and changes people faced at Manzanar. Six audio stations and one video station feature a total of 42 oral history clips.

Exhibits in barracks 1 focus on the early days of Manzanar, when thousands of people arrived to an unfinished camp. Barracks 1 also includes a Block Manager’s office, featuring the papers of Block Manager Chokichi Nakano. Barracks 8 features an “improved” apartment with linoleum and wall board. A second room explores the Loyalty Questionnaire and its profound long-lasting impacts.
Manzanar National Historic Site is located at 5001 Hwy. 395, six miles south of Independence, California. Admission is free.

For further information, please call (760) 878-2194 ext. 3310, visit our website at www.nps.gov/manz, or explore their page at www.facebook.com/ManzanarNationalHistoricSite.

cover photo by Gary Young

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Eastern California Museum highlights Manzanar

Thursday Evening Program places focus on Manzanar

The Friends of the Eastern California Museum will continue their community outreach program with a great evening program presented this Thursday September 24th by Alisa Lynch. Lynch is a ranger with the National Park Service and is Chief of Interpretation at Manzanar National Historic Site, located just south of Independence on Hwy 395.

The program will highlight a few of the ten thousand stories of ten thousand lives at Manzanar during World War II. Those attending the program will learn about how the National Park Service uses personal stories to connect 80,000 visitors to the site each year. The illustrated program will be followed by a question an answer period.

The free program will be presented in Independence at the Historic Winnedumah Hotel at 7:00pm on Thursday September 24th.
The “Friends” are a nonprofit organization dedicated to the support of the Eastern California Museum and its programs and to aid in increasing the Eastern California Museum’s value as a public educational facility with an emphasis on heritage.

For more information on this great program you can call David at 760 920-8061.

Cover photo provided by the Eastern California Museum

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