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 whom were 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 as an educational resource and symbol of tolerance and understanding.
Friends of Manzanar has helped 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
National Park Service crews restore the historic mess hall.
BLOCK 14 CAMPAIGN BEGINS
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.
The Block 14 campaign was launched Dec. 1 with "Speaking of Camp...," a program honoring former internees and Friends of Manzanar co-founder Lillian Kawasaki, who led efforts to build the replicated guard tower on the Manzanar site. The guard tower has become an iconic symbol of what took place during the war. (Read more about the event.)
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.