Manzanar National Historic Site will host the 41st annual Manzanar Pilgrimage on April 24. The pilgrimage, organized by the Los Angeles-based Manzanar Committee, includes weekend activities designed to commemorate the unjust World War II internment of 110,000 Japanese-Americans in ten war relocation camps.
The camps were in remote areas spread among seven states including Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Idaho, Utah, and Wyoming. Manzanar NHS is located in an isolated area of California’s Owens Valley, approximately 200 miles north of Los Angeles on U.S. Highway 395. It is between the small towns of Lone Pine and Independence.
This year’s pilgrimage will feature speaker Takashi Hoshizaki, a former internee of Wyoming’s Heart Mountain internment camp. The afternoon program at the Manzanar cemetery will also include a performance by UCLA’s Taiko (drum) group and an interfaith service. An evening program, Manzanar at Dusk, will take place from 5:00 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. at the Lone Pine High School gymnasium. Attendees at the evening program will have an opportunity to talk with former internees who will relate their personal experiences in the camps. There is no charge to attend the afternoon and evening programs.
The Manzanar camp was closed in late 1945 after the last Japanese-American internee left with $25 and a one-way bus ticket. The U.S. government subsequently sold most of the buildings, either for scrap lumber or to be moved to private land. The original sentry posts and auditorium (currently serving as the site’s interpretive center) remain, along with building foundations and several other identifiable areas of the camp.
The interpretive center includes a variety of exhibits and each half hour shows an excellent 22-minute film about life in the Manzanar relocation camp. An NPS brochure with an artistic illustration of the recreated camp, provides background information for a self-guiding auto tour of the site.