Manzanar National Historic Site, California.

National Park Service
U.S. Department of the Interior

"We had about one week to dispose of what we owned, except what we could pack and carry for our departure by bus...for Manzanar."
—William Hohri

Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941, led the United States into World War II and radically changed the lives of 120,000 men, women, and children of Japanese ancestry living in the United States. The attack intensified racial prejudices and led to fear of potential sabotage and espionage by Japanese Americans among some in the government, military, news media, and public. In February 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 authorizing the Secretary of War to establish Military Areas and to remove from those areas anyone who might threaten the war effort. Without due process, the government gave everyone of Japanese ancestry living on the West Coast only days to decide what to do with their houses, farms, businesses, and other possessions. Most families sold their belongings at a significant loss. Some rented their properties to neighbors. Others left possessions with friends or religious groups. Some abandoned their property. They did not know where they were going or for how long. Each family was assigned an identification number and loaded into cars, buses, trucks, and trains, taking only what they could carry. Japanese Americans were transported under military guard to 17 temporary assembly centers located at racetracks, fairgrounds, and similar facilities in Washington, Oregon, California and Arizona. Then they were moved to one of 10 hastily built relocation centers. By November 1942 the relocation was complete.

Remembering Manzanar
Manzanar National Historic Site was established to preserve the stories of the internment of nearly 120,000 Japanese Americans during World War II and to serve as a reminder to this and future generations of the fragility of American civil liberties.

Manzanar National Historic Site is 200 miles north of Los Angeles on U.S. 395. The Eastern California Museum in Independence has several exhibits related to Manzanar. In 2004, the Manzanar National Historic Site Interpretive Center opened within the restored auditorium, with exhibits and a film. Eventually, two barracks, a mess hall, a guard tower, and some rock gardens will be reconstructed or restored.

To learn more about Manzanar, please read the historical abstract, Significance of Manzanar Relocation Center, a Special History Study provided by the National Park Service.

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