About Us

Friends of Manzanar
Dedicated to Sharing the Lessons of History
     Friends of Manzanar is a volunteer organization comprised of men and women committed to educating others about the World War II experience of Japanese Americans. After the outbreak of the war,120,000 persons of Japanese ancestry, two-thirds of them American citizens, were confined in America's concentration camps. Manzanar, located in California between the towns of Independence and Lone Pine, was one of ten such camps.

     The National Park Service operates Manzanar National Historic Site, where the restored camp auditorium now houses an Interpretive Center featuring 8,000 square feet of exhibits, audio-visual programs, and two theaters. The Interpretive Center stands not only as an educational resource but also as a symbol of tolerance and understanding.

     Friends of Manzanar works to support efforts to enhance Manzanar  National Historic Site, such as the restoration of two barracks buildings and reconstruction of the mess hall and accompanying interpretive work.  When completed, the interpretive work inside the two barracks buildings and mess hall of Block 14 will allow visitors to step back in time and imagine what it must have been like for the men, women, and children inside Manzanar during those uncertain times. 

     We need your help to create and sustain this unique and worthwhile endeavor. Click here to learn more about our educational mission.
Friends of Manzanar  P.O. Box 357   Independence, CA  93526                                                                                                 website design by Hapa Consulting Services - Los Angeles
National Park Service crews restore the historic mess hall.

     In the fall of 1942, as winds seeped dust into her sparsely-outfitted 
barracks, a child turned to her mother and said, "I don't like this place. 
I want to go back to America." 

     How could the mother explain? This was America. 

     As winter turned to spring and months became years, Japanese 
Americans, who had been forced to leave their homes and move into 
hastily constructed camps, began to adapt. Nowhere was their 
displacement more evident than inside the barracks, where families 
eventually turned dreary surroundings into liveable space. 

     The National Park Service, with support from the Friends of Manzanar 
and the Manzanar Committee, preserves and maintains Manzanar National 
Historic Site, ensuring that the lessons embodied in the wartime experience 
of Japanese Americans will serve as an educational medium that benefits this 
and future generations.  

     When completed, Block 14, a $1 million preservation project spearheaded by Friends of Manzanar, will be comprised of several structures replicating a typical "block" and will include one barracks representing the camp as it appeared when the Issei and Nisei first arrived and another that is typical of how living quarters appeared after internees began to adapt and improve their surroundings.

     To the llttle girl who longed to return to America, we say: Please help us teach others, so that the tragedy that occurred long ago never happens again.
Farewell, Dear Friend
Friends of Manzanar is saddened by the passing of our co-founder Lillian Kawasaki, who succumbed to cancer on July 18 -- taken from us too soon.

Her leadership and passion helped support early efforts to preserve and share the story of the Japanese American wartime experience, particularly at Manzanar National Historic Site.

Among myriad accomplishments throughout her life and career, Lillian helped secure federal recognition for MNHS, serving as primary liaison to United States Senator Dianne Feinstein in crafting the language for legislation. Lillian went on to champion the campaign to erect Manzanar's replicated guard tower, a sobering symbol of the incarceration destined to inspire visitors for generations to come.

Our hearts go out to her family.  We sincerely thank them for sharing her with us.

                       Friends of Manzanar
                       Board of Directors
Lillian Kawasaki
1950 - 2013