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Manzanar barracks groundbreaking set for Feb. 13

Posted: January 13, 2010 12:51 p.m.
Updated: January 14, 2010 12:45 p.m.
 
The National Park Service (NPS), Friends of Manzanar, and Manzanar History Association invite the public to attend a barracks groundbreaking event at 1 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 13.

According to Superintendent Les Inafuku, "All Americans had to adapt during World War II, including Japanese Americans confined at Manzanar. Future visitors to Block 14 can learn how Japanese Americans lived at Manzanar, and improved their living situations. Our elders can still inspire us to improve our lives and help shape our great nation."

In operation from 1942-45, Manzanar War Relocation Center confined more than 10,000 Japanese Americans in 36 blocks. Each block included 14 barracks buildings, a mess hall, a recreation building, latrines, and laundry and ironing rooms. After the war, the buildings were sold for scrap lumber or relocated.

In 1997, in consultation with the Manzanar Advisory Commission, former internees, historians, and others, the NPS approved the development of Block 14 as a "demonstration block" to interpret daily life in the camp. In fiscal years 2009-10, Congress approved funding, proposed by California Senator Diane Feinstein, for reconstructing Barracks 1 and 8 on Block 14.

Barracks 1 will appear as it would have when Japanese Americans first arrived at Manzanar in 1942. Barracks 8 will be reconstructed to represent barracks life in 1945. A restored World War II mess hall moved to the site from Bishop Airport in 2002 will be open to visitors later this year.

Erick Ammon, Inc., of Anderson, California, will reconstruct the barracks. Friends of Manzanar, a non-profit partner of the NPS, continues to raise funds to support the development and interpretation of Block 14.

The groundbreaking event begins at 1:00 p.m. Afterwards, Manzanar History Association will provide light refreshments in the mess hall. Later that day, the NPS invites former internees to gather informally with visitors in the Interpretive Center to share their memories and experiences.

The events are free and open to the public. Manzanar National Historic Site is located along U.S. Highway 395, six miles south of Independence, California and nine miles north of Lone Pine. 

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