California Welcome Center Ridgecrest Kari Crutcher–
The California Welcome Center Ridgecrest is announcing a new exhibit exploring the history of the Manzanar National Historic Site to coincide with the 54th Annual Manzanar Pilgrimage on Saturday, April 29, 2023. The exhibit will be at the welcome center until May 31, 2023.
“As Japanese Americans were relocated during World War II, some responded by not speaking Japanese or finding ways to prove their ‘Americanness,’” says Lily Anne Welty Tamai, history curator at the Japanese American National Museum. They noted that the 442nd Infantry Regiment of the U.S. Army, composed entirely of Japanese-American troops, was a highly decorated unit for its size and length of service in U.S. Military history. The soldiers, who fought primarily in Europe, took it upon themselves to fight harder and longer than their counterparts to show their allegiance to the United States.
According to Kari Crutcher, Executive Director of the California Welcome Center – Ridgecrest, the pilgrimage is a solemn event for descendants of Japanese Americans to memorialize those incarcerated at the start of World War II. The event has evolved over the years to feature cultural speakers and performers and recognize those who assisted U.S. military operations, ending with Japan’s surrender in 1945.
“Ridgecrest is at the center of cultural crossroads in California, and the Manzanar National Historic Site, serves as an educational platform to foster a deeper understanding of this time in history,” Crutcher added.
This year’s pilgrimage theme is “Our Legacy: Generational Struggles for Democracy.” Featured speakers will be Manjusha Kulkarni, Executive Director of the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council, and Dr. Arthur A. Hansen, one of the leading scholars documenting and researching Manzanar and the Japanese American incarceration and the author of the new book “Manzanar Mosaic: Essays and Oral Histories on America’s First World War II Japanese American Concentration Camp.”
Also speaking will be Brenda Ling, Manzanar National Historic Site Superintendent, and James Matsuoka, son of the late community activist Jim Matsuoka.
Kyodo Taiko at UCLA will begin the Pilgrimage program at 11:30 AM PDT, while the central portion of the program starts at noon.
The popular Manzanar At Dusk program follows that same evening, from 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM, at the Lone Pine High School gymnasium, located at 538 South Main Street (U.S. Highway 395), in Lone Pine, nine miles south of the Manzanar National Historic Site.