Fresno Memorial Set to Open


Members of the Fresno Assembly Center Memorial Upgrade Committee join Huell Howser (front row, third from left) and Dale Ikeda (far right, holding Blue Ribbon Award from the Western Fairs Association). Howser interviewed the committee during a segment on the Big Fresno Fair for “California’s Gold” in October 2010. (JOHN D. HIX)


FRESNO — A ceremony will take place dedicating a memorial to the Fresno Assembly Center on opening day of the Big Fresno Fair, on Wednesday, Oct. 5, at 12:45 p.m.

Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin is among the dignitaries scheduled to participate in the dedication. Saburo Masada, who was incarcerated at the assembly center, will offer remarks.

Howser interviews Rev. Saburo Masada (center) and Lawson Inada (right). Both were inmates at the Fresno Assembly Center during World War II. Inada is a former Fresno student and teacher and is now the poet laureate of Oregon. (JOHN D. HIX)

The Fresno County Fairgrounds served as the site of the Fresno Assembly Center from May through October 1942, housing 5,344 Japanese Americans before they were sent to permanent internment camps.

Planning for the assembly center memorial has been under way since 2009. The Big Fresno Fair Board of Directors approached the committee that had completed the Pinedale Assembly Center Memorial to upgrade the memorial at the fairground site. Fresno County is the only county that had two assembly centers.

Funding for the $180,000 project was provided by a grant from the California Civil Liberties Public Education Program and by contributions from Friends of the Fresno District Fair, Fresno County Office of Education, Sun-Maid Growers of California and others. Individual donors sponsored hundreds of commemorative bricks that line the perimeter of the memorial.

The original California Registered Historical Landmark No. 934 marker is now in a more prominent location as the centerpiece of the new memorial. Storyboards are illustrated with photos and commentaries by former Valley internees and their families. Banners featuring photos from the era educate visitors about the historical significance of the site.

For information on the memorial, contact Dale Ikeda at [email protected] or (559) 313-9322.


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