On February 19, 1942, soon after the beginning of World War II, Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066. The evacuation order commenced the round-up of 120,000 Americans of Japanese heritage to one of 10 internment camps—officially called "relocation centers"—in California, Idaho, Utah, Arizona, Wyoming, Colorado, and Arkansas Closed November 21, 1945. Peak population 10,046.
During World War II the U.S. government forced more than 120,000 Japanese Americans to leave their homes and along with farms, schools, jobs, and businesses. In some cases family members were separated. From 1942 to 1945, they lived in internment camps. After the December 7, 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066. This act based on ethnicity permitted the military to bypass the constitutional safeguards of American citizens in the name of national defense. The order excluded persons of Japanese ancestry then living on the West Coast from residing and working in certain locations. This traumatic uprootment culminated in the mass evacuation and incarceration of most Japanese Americans, most of whom were U.S. citizens or legal permanent resident aliens. They were detained for up to 4 years, without due process of law or any factual basis. They were forced to live in bleak, remote camps behind barbed wire and under the surveillance of armed guards. Japanese American internment raised questions about the rights of American citizens as embodied in the first ten amendments to the Constitution.
One of those 10 camps was located in Manzanar, CA at the base of the Sierra Nevada mountains. It opened March 21, 1942 and was closed November 21, 1945. The peak population of that camp was 10,046. Some memories of that camp by Ansel Adams and others….
Replica of an historic watch tower at the Manzanar National Historic Site, built in 2005. Eight watchtowers, equipped with searchlights and machine guns pointed inward at the prisoners, were positioned around the perimeter of the camp.
As we leave the abandoned "Manzanar War Relocation Center" let us ponder how this happened and could history repeat itself if we are not eternally vigilant. GEORGE SANTAYANA : Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.