WASHINGTON — The National Park System Advisory Board Landmarks Committee met Nov. 9 in Washington, D.C. to consider the Poston Elementary School, Unit 1, as a National Historic Landmark.
Poston was one of the 10 main concentration camps in which Japanese Americans were incarcerated during World War II. It was the largest of the camps and at the time was the third-largest population center in Arizona.
The committee voted unanimously to recommend the site for landmark designation.
In testimony before the committee, JACL National Executive Director Floyd Mori related how the Manzanar, Minidoka, and Tule Lake camp sites were designated and have become an integral part of the National Park System, telling the story of the forced evacuation and incarceration of over 110,000 people of Japanese ancestry, most of them U.S. citizens.
Mori emphasized, “These National Historic Landmarks now serve as lessons to all of America of the delicate nature of our guaranteed freedoms in times of national stress. These landmarks are there as a lesson learned that we should never again repeat the admitted mistakes of 1942. The JACL and others use these sites to teach youth about the Constitution and to empower them to always be protective of the basic civil liberties guaranteed therein.”
Marlene Shigekawa, who was born at Poston, testified about the heartache and hardship experienced by her parents and grandparents. She also spoke of the uniting force the camp site has been in bringing diverse communities together for better understanding and tolerance.
Washington D.C. attorney Warren Maruyama told the story of his family being uprooted and taken to an assembly center and then to two different camps. He has been an ardent supporter of landmark designation for all of the camps and has testified at numerous hearings.