TWO MANZANAR VOLUNTEERS HAVE BEEN RECOGNIZED WITH A NATIONAL AWARD
According to a news release from Manzanar National Historic Site, each year, more than 440,000 people volunteer for the National Park Service (NPS). This year, from among them, the NPS recognized Manzanar Volunteers Saburo and Ann Sasaki with the prestigious Hartzog Enduring Service Award. NPS Director Jon Jarvis presented the award on August 9 in Washington, DC. Manzanar’s Superintendent Bernadette Johnson and Volunteer Coordinator Carrie Andresen joined Saburo and Ann for the ceremony.
Since 2005, the Sasakis have volunteered at Manzanar between mid-April and mid-June. Saburo spends most of his time talking with visitors, answering questions, and presenting interpretive and educational programs for up to 1500 people each year. 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.
In April 1942, Saburo was a 7-year-old farm boy in San Fernando when the US Army uprooted his family. For three years and seven months, the Sasakis—Family #3831— were among more than 11,000 Japanese Americans exiled to Manzanar. Saburo attended second, third, and fourth grades in the camp. The Sasakis left Manzanar in October 1945.
Saburo later met Ann in Cleveland, Ohio. They both went on to become engineers for General Motors. Today, they travel 2250 miles each way to Manzanar from their home in Rochester Hills, Michigan. While the distance is impressive, what is most exceptional is Saburo’s seven-decade journey from a childhood in Manzanar to serving as a National Park Service volunteer.
2016 bridges the celebratory 100th anniversary of the National Park Service and the 75th anniversary in 2017 of Japanese Americans being removed from their homes and communities. 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.
Congress established Manzanar National Historic Site in 1992. Since then, the National Park Service (NPS) has worked with scores of stakeholders to preserve and interpret Manzanar and its stories. Today, more than 90,000 annual visitors explore the personal experiences of communities incarcerated at Manzanar. The restored camp auditorium serves as a visitor center and houses extensive exhibits.
For more information about Manzanar, please call 760-878-2194 ext. 3310.