“Journey to Tanforan” on June 2 Will Reunite Former Internees

I just found this most incredible event that is happening on June 2 at Tanforan Shopping Center. Here is the press release: 

SAN FRANCISCO (March 16, 2007) – In February 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which sent 120,000 Japanese Americans to United States concentration camps during World War II.  For nearly 8,000 San Francisco Bay Area Japanese Americans who were first evacuated to Tanforan Racetrack in San Bruno, this journey marked the beginning of a several years-long revocation of their civil rights.

 Now, 65 years later, we will return — this time to heal old wounds, to educate those who do not know and to reunite with others who shared in the experience.  On Saturday, June 2, 2007, the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California (JCCCNC) and over 20 community-based organizations will join hundreds of former internees on a “Journey to Tanforan.”  Beginning at 10 a.m. at The Shops of Tanforan in San Bruno, we will commemorate the 65th anniversary of the signing of Executive Order 9066 and the opening of the Tanforan Assembly Center — the site on which The Shops of Tanforan now stand.

 “For many of the former internees, this event could help put closure to a chapter of their lives at the Tanforan Assembly Center, it was the first stop of what would eventually become years behind barb wire.  It is also the place where the community got their first glimpse of what was in store for them; it is the place of stories and the smell of manure.  It is the place where some too old and sick friends passed away behind barb wire fences, and it is a place where babies were born in horse stalls,” says JCCCNC Executive Director Paul Osaki. 

 A reenactment of the evacuation and arrival at Tanforan is being planned.  Actors dressed in period clothing will arrive on an old Greyhound bus — a reminder to some, and a somber lesson to others, about the events that transpired 65 years ago.

Speakers will include former internees, political guests and Mr. Fred Nicholas — a military guard at the Tanforan Assembly Center — who will reflect on the historic event.  Mr. Nicholas, who went on to become owner of the former Tanforan Shopping Center in the 1970s, installed a commemorative plaque noting the historical significance of the location. 

In addition to the main program, June 2 will also mark a very special groundbreaking ceremony for a Tanforan Assembly Center commemorative garden.  A 20 by 50 foot plot of land near the front of the shopping center has been dedicated by Breevast U.S., ownership of The Shops at Tanforan, as the location for a Japanese garden.  This special garden will be designed by renowned landscape artists Mr. Isao Ogura and Mr. Shigeru Namba, creators of the San Francisco State University Garden of Remembrance. 

“Journey to Tanforan” will be the first time that a formal organized gathering of past internees will be held at Tanforan. There are approximately 2,000 former internees alive today, most in their late 80s and early 90s. 


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