Manzanar, California’s Shame

ManzanarOn a recent road trip getaway with my husband, we traveled through the Owen’s Valley and stopped at Manzanar, the most widely known internment camp for over 110,000 Japanese Americans. It is ironically located within six miles of a town called Independence, California.


For those who don’t know the history, you can learn more here.


After Pearl Harbor in 1941 the U.S. Government decided to deal with the “Japanese problem” on the west coast. In 1942, President Roosevelt signed an executive order allowing “relocation centers” to be built.


These pictures I share are from the onsite museum. Visiting the reproductions of what the apartments were like was unsettling and moving. My heart sank as I read individual stories of Americans of Japanese descent who were uprooted and gave up their lives as they knew them, to spend the next three years from 1942-1945 at Manzanar. Some felt it was their way of helping out the war effort, which was amazing to me. The resilient people took the desert surroundings and made gardens and ponds and places of beauty. As best they could they carried on with their lives in the small confines of this camp. The high school teens couldn’t leave the grounds, so they had their sports events right inside the Internment fences. To see these Americans in cheerleading costumes and trying to go on with a “normal” life while being incarcerated was heart wrenching. There are many excellent movie clips and the museum is well worth the drive. I highly recommend it.


This is a part of our history that we cannot be proud of. Long after the fact, in 1988, President Reagan signed the Civil Liberties Act and each living survivor of the internment camps were paid $20,000 in redress for the forced incarceration.

For more moving pictures go here:

Since visiting Manzanar, it has been on my heart to share this story with those who may not know it.  Thank you for reading.

Until next time, make it a great one!



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2 Responses to Manzanar, California’s Shame

  1. robena grant says:

    What a touching blog post. I’d oftened wondered about Manzanar. Some years ago my daughter and I went to the Japanese American museum in L.A.’s Little Tokyo. It was a heartbreaking sight to read the history, see the photographs, and the displays of personal belongings of that time. How they lost their businesses and homes and came back to start all over again. I bought a fist-sized rock in their gift shop that has the word imagine carved into it in Japanese. It’s very hard to imagine what they all went through. War is not pretty.

  2. Hi Robena – I highly recommend visiting Manzanar, if you can. The stories are so moving. There are many great videos on the topic, and I specifically remember a made for TV series called Return to Manzanar or something like that, on TV back in the 1990s. Successful Americans lost everything and were given a paltry $500. upon release to start over.
    Thanks so much for stopping by and reading my blog.