Thursday, April 17, 2008

Go For Broke

A week ago I asked if anyone knew this little memorial in the city of big monuments. Someone at work came up and correctly told me she knew what and where it was (barely a stone's throw from Union Station) but no one else showed any knowledge of it. Too bad, because it's a serene, beautiful little park, made poignant by the injustice it depicts.

Amidst the hysteria that followed the surprise bombing of our Pacific fleet by the Japanese on December 7, 1941, many or most Japanese Americans on the west coast were rounded up and interned for the rest of the war in concentration camps scattered about the western part of the country. These Americans suffered incredible hardships, and many lost all they had worked so hard for. Yet their sons, brothers, fathers or husbands volunteered in droves to fight for America, and the Nisei unit comprised of these men earned distinction for their uncommon heroism in combat and suffered horrendous casualties fighting against the Nazis in Italy, France and Germany.

The Japanese American Memorial is a tiny little park, bordered by cherry blossom trees symbolizing the delicate and ephemeral nature of life, with the centerpiece being two cranes restrained by barbed wire, struggling to free themselves. The walls surrounding them have the names of the "relocation camps" with the number of internees at each place carved into them.

It is a magnificent memorial and I love going there. Every December 7th and Memorial Day this small park is a mandatory stop on my run that day.

9 comments:

skoshi said...

I stopped by a little while ago, and came back to post a comment. I liked your last post. I would have been the 5th person in that audience to not know Ira Glass, but when I asked my boyfriend, it turns out he's another devotee.

I just completed a book by Tahir Shah, that gives a perspective on storytelling that we rarely see in American culture. He's an excellent writer and his book "Arabian Nights" is about his life in Casablanca, Morocco, and the role of storytelling there (that's a real nutshell).

BTW, I'm hapa Japanese, and even though I'm born and raised American, and wasn't raised by my Issei Japanese mom, your entry touched that part of me. Her birthday, BTW, is Dec 7th.
Thank you.

rundangerously said...

i would be the 6th "who is ira?"

in a different theater... one of the last wwii books i read was douglas porch's "the path to victory," covering the allies in the mediterrenean -churchill's "soft underbelly.

did you ever run across that one?

cindy said...

What a nice memorial :)

Glad to hear I influenced you to *think* about tris...it has done wonders for my knees!

ShirleyPerly said...

Aha, I was wondering when you were going to reveal the answer. I will hopefully see this memorial on my next trip to DC, perhaps on a run with you :-) Though my parents were not in the U.S. at the time, I had some relatives who were interned and am very aware of what they went through. My brother even had a bit part in a short film about it.

Sunshine said...

Thanks for that... A part of American history that ought not to be forgotten! And cherry blossoms!
Sure did appreciate your detailed comment on my post in August regarding what to take on a marathon.

David said...

I am guessing the park's serenity is most in keeping with the people it is intended to pay tribute to.

Just12Finish said...

Thanks for the info. I'll add that to my list of must-sees next time.

akshaye said...

Cool.. I had never heard about that memorial. Its a stark reminder to the things that become acceptable under the pretext of war.

Jade Lady said...

Thanks for featuring this in your post. I'd love to see it when I return to DC...some day. Enjoyed reading the "park" link, which described in more detail the symbolism of the memorial.