Pinedale Memorial

February 16, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
A memorial to the thousands of Japanese Americans imprisoned during World War II was officially dedicated in Pinedale this morning.200 people braved the biting wind and pouring rain to hear Mineta's story of being 10 years old when he and his family were plucked from their San Jose home in 1942. He told the crowd, "I vividly remember every bit of it." The Minetas were sent by train to an internment camp near Los Angeles. He said, "We could only take what we could carry. My parents decided for whatever reason, I should be in my Cub Scout uniform that day."

They ended up at a camp in Wyoming. 46 years later Mineta, then a U.S. Representative, became the driving force behind the U.S. Civil Liberties Act signed by President Ronald Reagan in 1988. The legislation apologized for the injustices to Japanese Americans during World War II. Mineta added, "This country has made light years of progress beyond where it was in 1942."

The Japanese American Citizens League built the plaza on what was once a temporary prison for 4,800 Americans of Japanese ancestry.

Seattle artist Gerard Tsutakawa designed the "Fountain of Remembrance" and said, "I'm very honored to be a part of it."

Tsutakawa's parents, who met at an internment camp, were his inspiration. He said, "I think this is a celebration of all the incredible things that have happened since then and all the awareness and learning that's happened."

Secretary Mineta describes the memorial as a reminder of past mistakes and a beacon against future injustice.

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