MIS Historic Learning Center to Close Saturday Due to Rallies

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The MIS Historic Learning Center is located at Crissy Field, Presidio of San Francisco. (Photo by Kahn Yamada)

SAN FRANCISCO — The National Japanese American Historical Society has issued the following statement:

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On Saturday Aug. 26, 2017, NJAHS has elected, along with other businesses, organizations, National Park Service, and Presidio Trust-run visitor centers within the Presidio, to close the MIS (Military Intelligence Service) Historic Learning Center out of safety concerns for its staff and guests in response to the planned permitted rallies and counter-protests expected at Crissy Field.

The MIS Historic Learning Center, located at 640 Old Mason St. along Crissy Field, was the original home of the Fourth Army Intelligence School, which secretly trained American soldiers of Japanese descent during World War II, while their families were incarcerated behind barbed wire. Although their top-secret work kept them from full public recognition, these soldiers applied their intellect, language skills, and cultural acumen to achieve victory. They saved countless lives, and are credited for shortening the war by two years.

They, like the Nisei soldiers of the 100th Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team, proved their loyalty to the United States through their service. They are recent recipients of the Congressional Gold Medal, our nation’s highest honor. Their service in the face of racial prejudice, wartime hostility and global conflict inspires us to face what it means to be American.

Our mission at this learning center is to preserve a vital part of American history as a tribute to the Japanese American experience and as a promise to the MIS legacy of peace and reconciliation. We tell the story of valor and sacrifice of the Nisei soldier who fought for the very American values of freedom and civil liberties that were denied to them and their families during wartime due to race prejudice, war hysteria, and failure of political leadership.

It seems ironic that we should close for this day without allowing the visitors to this national park to learn about the important lessons of WWII– exclusion, incarceration, and redress — lessons that are so critical to understanding the changing global context today. Yet, our minds and hearts remain open to free speech and opportunity for all. We also have the public responsibility to protect the historic cultural resources that are showcased within this facility, and the visitors who want to see them.

NJAHS stands with the National Park Service and the Presidio Trust on their decisions to allow for First Amendment rights of expression, and to observe the best way to preserve the safety for all that day.

Please come visit our museum the next day on Sunday Aug. 27, 12 to 5 p.m. to learn about and share our journey.

Our special exhibition “Children of the Camps” is on display until Oct. 22.

For more information about Saturday’s Crissy Field events and other planned weekend events, please visit the following: https://www.nps.gov/goga/first-amendment-permits.htm 

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San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee issued the following statement regarding the Golden Gate National Recreation Area’s decision to permit the right-wing group Patriot Prayer to hold its rally at Crissy Field:

“The shameful, anti-American trend of hate-filled extremist rallies will unfortunately be allowed to continue this weekend in our city.

“Since the beginning of this process, we have repeatedly stated that the public safety of San Francisco residents and visitors is our top priority. With the event now officially permitted, the San Francisco Police Department is working with the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and the United States Park Police on a comprehensive public safety plan.

“Let us show this nation that San Francisco is a city of peace and unity. Do not engage with the members of this group, whose only priority is to incite violence through divisive rhetoric. Instead of dignifying their display of hatred, we ask that residents join peaceful gatherings taking place at the Civic Center Plaza on Friday and Saturday at 12 p.m.

“Over the course of history, we have been tested by movements designed to magnify our differences and sow distrust. We will not allow that fear and anger to break our spirit. Like we have so many times before, we will overcome ideologies based on hatred by showing the power of unity and compassion.

“This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love, a movement for peace, inclusiveness and unity that started in this city and spread throughout the country. Half a century later, those values still drive our city. This weekend, we will echo once again that love triumphs over hate.”

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