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Cerritos Library to Present Tuna Canyon Detention Station Exhibition and Program

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“Only the Oaks Remain” includes an Honor Roll of the Tuna Canyon detainees. (J.K. YAMAMOTO/Rafu Shimpo)

CERRITOS — The Cerritos Library, 18025 Bloomfield Ave. in Cerritos, will present the exhibition “Only the Oaks Remain: The Story of Tuna Canyon Detention Station” from Thursday, Aug. 1, through Saturday, Sept. 7, near the Craftsman area on the first floor of the library.

The exhibition tells the true stories of those targeted as dangerous enemy aliens and held in the Tuna Canyon Detention Station, located in the Tujunga neighborhood of Los Angeles, by the U.S. Department of Justice during World War II. Rare artifacts bring the experiences of detainees — who included Japanese, German and Italian immigrants and extradited Japanese Peruvians — to life.

In conjunction with the exhibition, Kay and Nancy Oda of the Tuna Canyon Detention Station Coalition will present a “Whispering Trees of Tuna Canyon” program at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 7, in the Cerritos Library’s Skyline Room. The program will present untold stories of earliest days after Pearl Harbor through artifacts, letters, diaries and poems.

Following the bombing of Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, the Department of Justice took over a vacated Civilian Conservation Corps camp in Tujunga and converted it into a detention station by installing 12-foot-high barbed-wire fences, guard posts and flood lights. Tuna Canyon Detention Station became one of many initial confinement sites set up by the government.

Targeted individuals were quickly arrested in their homes, leaving behind confused and frightened families; most detainees were later sent to Department of Justice or Army internment camps.

“Only the Oaks Remain” commemorates the history of the Tuna Canyon Detention Station and seeks to educate the public about the violation of civil rights that took place there. The exhibition features photographs, letters, diaries, interviews, declassified government documents and other artifacts that serve to illuminate a largely untold story that goes beyond the more widely known story of the mass incarceration of Japanese Americans.

A highlight of the display is an Honor Wall that bears each detainee’s name, creating a contemplative space for viewers.

“Only the Oaks Remain” is organized by the Tuna Canyon Detention Station Coalition (www.tunacanyon.org), a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising public awareness about the site’s history. For more information about the exhibition or “Whispering Trees of Tuna Canyon” program, call (562) 916-1342.

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