WW II relocation camp gradually reconstructed, helps visitors remember tragedy


By Jay Michaels

MAGIC VALLEY, ID (KMVT) The College of Southern Idaho is playing host to the 6th annual Civil Liberties Symposium here in Twin Falls, and a piece of our local history is gradually coming back together.

The Minidoka National Historic Site is ten years old this year. Many locals know it better as Hunt Camp, where more than 10,000 Japanese Americans were held after the bombing of Pearl Harbor during World War II. The Minidoka Relocation Center became one of the largest cities in Idaho between 1942 and 1945.

Robert C. Sims of Boise State University says, "Through actions that our government has taken to try to redress that, and it's time for everyone to come to a sound understanding that that was in fact the case. It was a grave injustice."

350 people are expected to make the ninth annual pilgrimage, including many of the Friends of Minidoka. Kurihara Tom had an aunt by marriage whose family was held here during World War II. He was relocated from Berkeley, California to the camp in Heart Mountain, Wyoming, where he turned seven years old.

He says, "As a child this was a traumatic experience, but yet a pleasurable one because of my parents, in effect, took care of me very well, so I didn't want as a child. I had no knowledge of civil liberties or other political issues."

The reconstructed honor roll with the names of all the Minidoka residents who served in the US military during World War II is now in place. A historic barracks has been returned to the site, as well. Tours of the park will be held beginning Saturday morning July 2nd, 2011 at eight a.m., and a dedication ceremony will be held on Sunday.

Superintendent Wendy Janssen of the Minidoka Historic Site says, "We have a new 1.6 mile trail that will be open. We have outdoor exhibits there as well, so a lot of activities for our park's 10th anniversary this year."

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