Manzanar National Historic Site invites the public to a weekend of special events to celebrate the United Nations’ 2022 International Day of Peace. With its large collection of Japanese gardens, Manzanar NHS is one of only 20 places across the continent selected to take part in the North American Japanese Garden Association’s signature event, “Gardens for Peace,” to promote world peace and understanding.
Manzanar’s gardens were created by Japanese Americans who were incarcerated at the World War II camp as symbols of hope and resilience in the face of racism and wartime hysteria. Abandoned after the war, the gardens were obscured by sediments and vegetation, but since 2007 over 20 have been uncovered through Manzanar’s award-winning Community Archeology Program.
In Manzanar’s Gardens for Peace events, noted scholar Kendall Brown will give visitors an illustrated presentation on Japanese gardens across North America. On-site tours of Manzanar’s Japanese gardens will be led by Dr. Brown and National Park Service archeologist Jeff Burton. Although the gardens have not yet been fully restored, the tours will help participants imagine the lush landscapes once created behind barbed wire. During a brown-bag lunch, the public will be invited to participate in an in-depth conversation about the historical significance of the gardens and their potential for promoting future peace. The program will close with an evening reception at a private Japanese garden in Lone Pine.
Manzanar National Historic Site was established by Congress to preserve the story of the incarceration of 120,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry solely because of their ethnicity; this history is relevant to several current issues, including how a government can perpetuate racism, the harsh treatment of immigrants, and the abrogation of civil rights. But in their gardens, the incarcerated Japanese American asserted pride in their heritage in the face of prejudice, hope and action in the face of forced confinement, and community and family ties in the face of imposed institutionalism. Thus, Manzanar’s gardens are not solely places of serenity and beauty; they also represent how individuals and small groups can work against the tyranny of divisiveness and war.
Manzanar National Historic Site is located at 5001 Highway 395, six miles south of Independence and nine miles north of Lone Pine, California. Learn more on our website at https://www.nps.gov/manz.
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