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Annual Camp Amache Pilgrimage Held in Granada

 

This packing slip was what was issued to Japanese-Americans, informing them they would soon be transported to a detention camp.

A tradition that has been maintained for over 40 years was observed again this weekend at Camp Amache in Granada.

Over 100 attendees visited the Japanese-American internment camp which was originated in 1942 this past Saturday, May 19th.  A visit to the site by relatives of those who were re-located from their homes during WW2 included a ceremony at the cemetery as well as visits to a reconstructed barrack, the restored water tank and a guard tower.  Afterwards a buffet reception was held at the Granada High School.  Those in attendance included U.S. Senator Cory Gardner, Prowers County Commissioners Tom Grasmick and Wendy Buxton-Andrade, Akhiro Izumi Consulate-General of Japan in Denver, Calvin Hada President of the Japanese American Association of Colorado, Friends of Amache and Granada teacher John Hopper and his team of volunteer students from the Amache Preservation Society.

US Senator Cory Gardner and Colorado Senator Larry Crowder

Senator Gardner offered information on the progress being made to enable the National Park Service to incorporate Camp Amache into its domain, noting that it will be a lengthy process, but one that will help increase knowledge of the camp and the role it and other camps like it, played in in the Second World War and the impact it had on Japanese Americans who were incarcerated there during the war’s duration. “It’s an event that we should never forget, and will take steps to be certain that anything like it never occurs again,” he told the audience.

Gardner with Commissioners Buxton-Andrade and Grasmick on Right

Gardner said he recently introduced the Amache Study Act, co-sponsored by Colorado legislators Congressman Ken Buck and Senator Michael Bennet, legislation that would direct the Department of the Interior to conduct a special resource study at Amache. The act will help eventually declare Amache a national park.  “We can share those stories and build a legacy that so many of you here today have created and continued.  It’s extraordinary what you have done to preserve the stories and artifacts from that period.”  The senator referenced the 1943 valedictorian speech delivered by Marion Konishi Takehara, then incarcerated at Camp Amache and repeated again at the camp in 2016 when she was 91.  Her theme was on how America exemplifies freedom, equality, security, and justice.

Senator Gardner stated, “I can’t read that speech without crying over what I it means. I read it on floor of the US Senate to help preserve the spirit of justice, equality, liberty, freedom and we can continue to share that story thanks to the legacy that you have helped build.”

Calvin Hada presented a check for $5,000 to John Hopper to assist in his preservation work for the Amache Museum and for the camp. Hopper began the undertaking over 25 years ago as a class project for Granada High School students and his work continues to this day with new students who offer their assistance each year.  Hada’s organization also donated $250 each in scholarship funds to this year’s senior students including:  Tarin Kemp, Adam Hopper, Emmie Harmon, Devon Silva and Lucas Rink.  Hada also presented a $3,000 donation to Archeologist Dr. Bonnie Clark who represents the University of Denver Amache Project.  This summer, the University will lead a month of field research at the camp and the Amache Museum.  An open house to observe work in the field and at the museum is set for July 7th.

Although Camp Amache was one of the smallest camps in the country during the war, it is by far, the most accurately detailed camp and museum depicting daily life for those who lived there for several years. Just last week, a recreation building from the camp was transported by semi from the middle of Granada back to its original location to undergo a restoration project.

Those wishing to offer letters or emails in support of Camp Amache becoming a national park site can mail Senator Gardner through his Pueblo representative, Cathy Garcia at 503 N. Main Street, Suite 426, Pueblo, CO 81003. Phone: 719-543-1324 – Fax: 719-543-1553.

By Russ Baldwin

 

 

Filed Under: City of GranadaConsumer IssuesCountyEventsFeaturedHistoryTourismYouth

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