PACOIMA — “Only the Oaks Remain,” the Tuna Canyon Detention Center traveling exhibit, will premiere at the San Fernando Valley Japanese American Community Center, 12953 Branford St. in Pacoima, on Sunday, Oct. 2, from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Special guests will include former U.S. Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta, who was incarcerated with his family as a child.
Since a large crowd is expected, register for a timed entry by going to www.tunacanyon.org for free tickets.
Historical photos from the family of Merrill H. Scott, the camp administrator, will provide a never-before-seen peek into the World War II detention station in Tujunga. Visitors will experience the beauty and tragedy of the canyons when they walk around the 17 7-foot-tall A-frames.
Organizers have recreated this episode in American history through biographies, oral interviews of descendants, a virtual tour, poems, and newspapers.
The Honor Wall highlights the names of the Japanese, German, and Italian immigrants and Latin Americans who were targeted as “dangerous enemy aliens” and processed at Tuna Canyon from Dec. 16, 1941 to Oct. 1, 1943.
By Dec. 7, 1941, the U.S. Justice Department incorporated the Tuna Canyon Civilian Conservation Corps camp and converted it into a detention station. Twelve-foot-tall barbed-wire fences, guard towers, a watch tower, and flood lights were hurriedly built to house primarily male prisoners to be later processed and sent to Department of Justice or Army internment camps. Spiritual, educational, community and businesses leaders were rounded up, arrested, and taken from their homes and businesses, leaving behind confused and frightened wives and children.
Diaries written by inmates and numerous declassified government documents released from the National Archives and Records Administration in Washington, D.C., College Park, MD., and Riverside will be on display.
This exhibition reaches beyond conventional thinking and takes an unprecedented look at war’s impact on a disparate group of detainees, examining both the striking similarities as well as differences. The Honor Wall will be the highlight of the traveling exhibit with the hope that future generations might learn from the nation’s mistake and that innocent people will never again be targeted because of race, ethnicity, or religious beliefs.
The Tuna Canyon Detention Station Coalition’s goal is to install a memorial plaque and educational posts along the on-site walking path under the canopy of mature oaks for future generations to understand the unjust incarceration of immigrants and others in Los Angeles. The camp site was razed to make way for the Verdugo Hills Golf Course, but the oaks date back to the internment period and the city has designated one acre as a historic-cultural landmark.
This project was funded, in part, by a grant from the U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, and Japanese American Confinement Sites Grant Program and sponsored by the San Fernando Valley Japanese American Community Center. The Tuna Canyon Detention Station Coalition is dedicated to raising public awareness about the detention and to the continuing struggle of all peoples. It plays a key role in the development of the Tuna Canyon Detention Station Memorial at 6433 La Tuna Canyon in Tujunga. For more information, write to [email protected] or go to www.tunacanyon.org.
The exhibit will be shown at the History Museum of San Diego in Balboa Park, Oct. 7 to Dec. 3; San Diego Buddhist Temple, Oct. 15; Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles, Dec. 10 to April 9, 2017; Manzanar Pilgrimage, April 29, 2017; Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center, Oct. 15, 2017 to June 15, 2018; and Santa Barbara Historical Museum, Jan. 15 to April 15, 2018.