Manzanar National Historic Site
Over the years, this monument has become an icon, inspiring a grass-roots movement to preserve Manzanar and remember the sacrifices of 120,313 Japanese Americans confined by their own government.
Buddhist minister Sentoku Mayed and Christian minister Shoichi Wakahiro first returned here on Memorial Day 1946. For the next 30 years, they made "pilgrimages" to honor Manzanar's dead.
Amid the 1960s civil rights struggles, younger Japanese Americans spoke out, shattering their elders' silence and shame about the camps. On a cold December day in 1969, 150 people journeyed here on the first organized pilgrimage. An annual event since, the Manzanar Pilgrimage attracts hundreds of people of all ages from diverse backgrounds. On the last Saturday of April, they gather here for a day of remembrance with speeches, a memorial service, an traditional ondo dance.
Visiting the cemetery anytime can be a personal pilgrimage—of reflection, worship, remembrance, or protest. Some people leave offerings—-coins, personal mementos, paper cranes, water and sake, and religious items—as outward expressions of the ongoing, unspoken conversations about America's past and future.
(Quote at the bottom of the marker:)
"America is strong as it makes amends for the wrongs it has committed?We will always remember Manzanar because of that." -Sue Kunitomi Embry
(Inscription on the left side of the marker:)
Sue Kunitomi Embry 1923-2006-Sue Kunitomi arrived at Manzanar in May 1942, at age 19. In camp, she served as a teacher's aid, wove camouflage nets to support the war effort, and worked as a reporter and then managing editor of the Manzanar Free Press.
Years later Sue Kunitomi Embry was among the first of her generation to speak out about the camps. As the driving force behind the Manzanar Committee, she organized the Manzanar Pilgrimage for 37 years and worked tirelessly to ensure that this site and its stories would be preserved to protect the human and civil rights of all. Today, Sue's legacy endures in the ongoing work of informing and inspiring future generations.