• July 24th, 2024
  • Wednesday, 09:15:26 PM

Amache Survivors, Colorado Leaders Reflect on Legacy of Internment Camps


Photo: (Screenshot Zoom stream via Colorado Newsline) Carlene Tanigoshi Tinker speaks during a virtual roundtable discussion honoring the 80th anniversary of the internment of Japanese Americans.

 

By Sara Wilson

 

Carlene Tanigoshi Tinker was 2 years old when her family was forcibly given two weeks to move from their home in Los Angeles, California, eventually heading to a nearby horse race track and then to a government-run camp for Japanese Americans in Colorado.

 

She remembers attending preschool in a barrack, the single pot-bellied stove that did little to keep out the winter cold and the reduction of her family’s life to a small apartment, their rights as American citizens stripped from them. She remembers being a toddler, called an enemy of the state by her government.

 

Tanigoshi Tinker returned to that site on February 19, this time out of joy.

 

“Tomorrow [Feb 19] will be the climax, the best Day of Remembrance, because we managed to get Amache passed to become a National Park Historic Site. This is what we have worked for and we have achieved it,” she said during a virtual roundtable last Friday with congressional leaders, Amache survivors and their descendants.

 

Photo/Foto: U.S. Secretary of Interior Haaland/twitter U.S. Secretary of Interior Deb Haaland joined Amache survivors, Colorado congressional leaders to reflect on legacy of internment camps as site set to get National Park designation.

Feb. 19 marked the 80th anniversary of Executive Order 9066, which authorized the internment of more than 120,000 people of Japanese descent in the United States during World War II. Over 10,000 people passed through the Granada Relocation Center, known as Amache, in southeastern Colorado while the order was in effect.

 

“As we approach the 80th Day of Remembrance, we honor the business owners, the school teachers, farmers and young children who were taken away from their homes and communities and incarcerated at sites run by the federal government,” Department of the Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said.

 

“To heal from these types of historical wounds that we carry, it takes a deep reckoning with these truths and a recognition that they have generational impacts,” she continued.

 

The anniversary comes on the heels of action in the U.S. Senate last week that would put Amache into the National Park Service, preserving it for future generations to visit and learn from. The U.S. House of Representatives, which passed a similar bill last summer, approved the final version last Friday and the legislation now heads to the president’s desk.

 

“The memory of Amache isn’t only for the survivors and descendants to bear. It’s the responsibility of every American to remember what happened there, so it can never happen again,” Sen. Michael Bennet said.

 

The Senate version of the bill was sponsored by Democrats Bennet and Sen. John Hickenlooper, and the House version was sponsored by Republican Rep. Ken Buck and Democratic Rep. Joe Neguse.

 

Buck, who represents the district where the Amache site is located, said the 80th Day of Remembrance is not only a time to reflect but also a time to celebrate the events that led to its closing and the resiliency of its survivors.

 

“We celebrate the survivors and descendants and the great achievements they’ve accomplished since leaving Camp Amache,” Buck said.

 

“Our story will be that we had 7,000 people here for three years who made the best of it. We were survivors. We persevered. In spite of being deprived of our rights, we managed to become persons later on to raise families in a very notable way. We need others to tell those stories.”
Carlene Tanigoshi Tinker

 

Ken Kitajima was a preteen when his family became victims of the racism against Japanese Americans and then internees at Amache. During the roundtable, he shared the financial, emotional and social consequences his family endured even after gaining freedom from the camp.

 

“I consider February 19, 1942, the true Day of Infamy,” he said, alluding to the moniker commonly used to describe when Japanese forces bombed Pearl Harbor and kickstarted the xenophobia against Japanese Americans.

 

Survivors and their descendants shared the importance of preserving history and having Amache preserved within the National Park Service’s educational mission.

 

“Having Amache become a National Park system unit is astounding, because all of us, and I’m one of the younger survivors, all of us are going to be gone someday. We have to have somebody continue to tell our story,” Tanigoshi Tinker said.

 

“Our story will be that we had 7,000 people here for three years who made the best of it. We were survivors. We persevered. In spite of being deprived of our rights, we managed to become persons later on to raise families in a very notable way. We need others to tell those stories.”

 

 

Sara Wilson is a Reporter with Colorado Newsline. This article is republished from Colorado Newsline under a Creative Commons license.

 

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