This morning we left Bishop & drove south to the Mojave Desert. The eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada Mountains is just spectacular & the White & Inyo mountains to the west of the Owens Valley are also beautiful. The high desert between the mountain ranges is interesting, too.
We had never stopped at the Manzanar National Historic Site so decided to stop today. We knew that it had been an internment camp for Japanese during WWII but that was all we knew. The film, exhibits & reconstructed barracks were very informative. We didn't take the time to see the reconstructed mess hall - should have but needed to get back on the road. Here's some information about Manzanar -
In spring 1942, the US Army turned the abandoned townsite of Manzanar into a camp that would confine over 10,000 Japanese Americans & Japanese immigrants. Margaret Ichino Stanicci later said, "I was put into a camp as an American citizen, which is against the Constitution because I had no due process. ... It was only because of my ancestry."
For decades before WWII, politicians, newspapers & labor leaders fueled anti-Asian sentiment in the western US. Laws prevented immigrants from becoming citizens or owning land. Immigrants' children were born US citizens, yet they too faced prejudice. Japan's December 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor intensified hostilites toward people of Japanese ancestry. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9606 on February 19, 1942, authorizing the military to remove "any or all persons" from the West Coast. Under the direction of Lt. General John L. DeWitt, the Army applied the order to everyone of Japanese ancestry, including over 70,000 US citizens. DeWitt said, "You just can't tell one Jap from another. ... They all look the same. ... A Jap's a Jap."
They were from cities & farms, young & old, rich & poor. They had only days or weeks to prepare. Businesses closed, classrooms emptied, families & friends separated. Ultimately the government deprived over 200,000 people of their freedom. Half were children & young adults. Ten thousand were incarcerated at Manzanar.
The Manzanar camp closed on November 21, 1945, 3 months after the war ended. Despite having regained their freedom, some people found life equally difficult after the war. Most spent decades rebuilding their lives. In 1969, a group of activists came on their own pilgrimage of healing & remembrance. With the formation of the Manzanar Committee, this pilgrimage grew into an annual event attended by ovr 1,000. Efforts to remember & preserve the camp led to the creation of Manzanar National Historic Site in 1992. After the war the government removed most of the structures & buried gardens & basements. As time passed, Manzanar was further buried, both in sand & in memory. Today when visitors see Manzanar they may think there's nothing out there. Yet for those who learn to read the landscape, the place comes to life. A pipe sticking out of the ground becomes a water faucet where children splashed their faces in the summer heat. A foundation reveals the shoe prints of a child who crossed the wet cement. Cement & rocks remain where gardens were built to beautify the dusty ground outside barracks & mess halls where people waited in line for meals 3 times a day. "There is not much there anymore in the way of structures ... but a lot of memories remain." Miho Sumi Shiroishi.
David's comment as we left Manzanar was "Well, it's not a feel-good place." Too true but it's a sad piece of our history that we need to remember so we don't repeat the same mistakes.
As we headed south from Manzanar we passed thru Lone Pine. We gazed at Mt. Whitney - the highest peak in the contiguous US (14,505'), passed the hotel where we spent the first nite on our honeymoon lo those many years ago, grabbed a snack at McDonalds & ate it in the parking lot of the Film Museum. The Lone Pine Film Festival is being held this weekend. This is an annual film festival celebrating the 100s of films & tv episodes that used Lone Pine, the Alabama Hills outside Lone Pine & the Sierra Nevada mountain range as film locations. Lone Pine has hosted 100s of the film industry's best known directors & actors, including directors William Wyler, John Ford, George Stevens & William Wellman, & actors John Wayne, Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, Bing Crosby & Barbara Stanwyck. So, if you're ever planning to be in the area in October, check to see when the film festival is being held. Bet it would be worth a visit.
Continuing south we drove thru Red Rock Canyon - where we started to hit some wind. The wind blows in this area most of the time & can be really bad. No high wind warnings today but David did have to deal with some gusty winds from the canyon all the way up to Tehachapi. We made it safely to the Mountain Valley RV Park at the Mountain Valley Airport, which is a glider airport. We're staying hooked up tonite so will have our salad & spaghetti dinner & relax for the evening.
Tomorrow is the last day of our big summer trip. More later...