Saturday, March 22, 2014

Manzanar National Historic Site, CA

After our enjoyable visit to Death Valley, our next destination was Manzanar, which is one of the ten internment camps where Japanese Americans were forced to relocate during World War II. In Spanish, Manzanar means apple orchard, but there are no signs of apples there today, only stark reminders of the injustices the prisoners endured during this unfortunate period in our history.

Now Manzanar is a National Historic Site - thanks to a group of survivors who fought long and hard to preserve its history. You can visit a very impressive and informative museum and then tour the remains of the encampment by vehicle. As we drove around the acreage, we could only imagine the feelings of desolation and devastation that the internees must have felt. The entire site is well worth a visit; don't pass it up if you find yourself in the Owens Valley.

Here we are on our way to Manzanar...


A lone Joshua Tree dots the countryside...
Before we reached Manzanar, we stopped off in a tiny town called Keeler just next to Owens Lake...

Here's a view of the Eastern Sierras with the rocky Alabama Hills in the foreground; 
one of those distant peaks is Mt. Whitney...
The town of Lone Pine is just a little bit south of Manzanar 
and is a jumping off point for mountaineers and wilderness fans...




The entrance to Manzanar...
A replica of a historic watch tower...
The parking lot was pretty much empty, so we had the place to ourselves...
Just follow the road for a tour...
You can go inside the barracks for a glimpse of what life was like...

The old hanger in the background is now the Interpretive Center...

Such a stark, barren landscape...
The memorial at the cemetery site reads "Soul Consoling Tower"...
The inscription on the back reads "Erected by the Manzanar Japanese"...

A weathered prayer cloth...
Only five graves remain in the cemetery...
The Eastern Sierras are known for extremes in climate - hot, dusty, dry summers 
and freezing cold winters... 

Z and I had planned to continue up along Highway 395 all the way to Carson City and then head back to the Bay Area via I-80, but as this last photo suggests, a big storm was moving in, so after spending the night in Bishop, which by the way is quite a charming little town, we abandoned our plans and drove south along 395 and headed back home through Tehachapi and then on Highway 99.

Another successful road trip completed. But there's more to come - Next stop Oregon.

2 comments:

Hazel Ceej said...

It looks forlorn (first photos) but photography-wise, I love your shots.

Louis la Vache said...

«Louis» has seen photo essays of this camp made of contemporary photos. The internment of the Japanese is a very ugly stain on our national character even if it is partially understandable. Roosevelt is lionized by many as one of our greatest presidents, but if you dig into what this man was really about, the glow quickly turns to tarnish . It was Roosevelt who ordered the internment of the Japanese not because he was convinced they (as a group) posed any great danger to our country, but because it was politically expedient. Another glimpse into the soul of this man is provided when we look at what REALLY happened in the events leading to and immediately after Pearl Harbor. American code breakers, led by Joseph Rochefort, had broken the Japanese codes. Roosevelt knew he needed a shocking event to break the country's isolationist mood, and he seized on the Japanese plans in the Pacific as the means to do it. Roosevelt knew EXACTLY when, where and how the Japanese attack would come. He saw to it that this critical information was withheld from our military commanders at Pearl Harbor, Army General Short and Navy Admiral Kimmel. When the attack came, Roosevelt through Short and Kimmel under the bus. The men were relieved of duty and court-martialed. Roosevelt never lifted a finger to exonerate these two commanders. All of this is documented in Robert Stinnett's more-than-20-years-in-the-making book, "Day of Deceit".

An interesting aside to the war in the Pacific is that it was predicted in the early 1920s by a British journalist who covered military topics, Hector Bywater. Bywater carefully mapped out that the Japanese would attempt to build a Pacific empire and laid out the reasons why they would do so. His book, "The Great Pacific War", made his argument and mapped out how the Japanese would likely go about it - and the U.S. response. His book predicted the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, which at the time was only a small outpost rather than the important base for the Army and Navy that it had become by 1941. Bywater predicted that the U.S. response would involve an island-hopping strategy to drive the Japanese back to their home waters. His book became required reading by the Japanese Imperial Army and Navy staffs. It is known that U.S. Navy Admiral Nimitz had read the book, but it (to my knowledge) has never been acknowledged that Nimitz credited Bywater for providing him with the outline of the island-hopping strategy Nimitz in fact employed. (That is not meant as a criticism of Nimitz, only a comment.) What is strange is that while Bywater's book was required reading by the Japanese military commanders, they failed to anticipate that the U.S. response would be what Bywater outlined, thus contributing to their defeat. Bywater died under mysterious circumstances on the eve of the Japanese attack on Pearl harbor. He was found dead in his bed on the morning of 8 December, 1941 in London by his housekeeper. The night of 7 December had seen a ferocious bombing attack on London by the Luftwaffe and the London Coroner's office was overwhelmed by work resulting from the bombing raid, so an autopsy of Bywater was not performed. Anecdotal evidence points to Bywater having been poisoned by a method favored by Japanese spies. The same night in Tokyo, one of Bywater's military reporter colleagues was arrested by Japanese military police, tortured and interrogated. He "committed suicide" by "jumping" from a seventh floor window of the building where he was being held.