Saturday, July 12, 2008

Farewell to Manzanar

Recently I spent several hours at the Manzanar War Relocation Center, where over 10,000 Japanese-Americans were interned during World War II. The site is now managed by the U.S. National Park Service. In an isolated area at the far western side of the center stands an obelisk, marking the burial places of several internees:


Words I cannot read
Commemorate the dead
At the Manzanar camp.

© 2008 by CaliforniaTeacherGuy

My senryu came closer to the truth than I knew when I wrote it. Just yesterday I was reading Farewell to Manzanar, and stumbled upon this paragraph:

Near [the obelisk] a dozen graves were outlined in the sand with small stones, and a barbed-wire fence surrounded them to keep back the cattle and the tumbleweed. The black Japanese script cut into the white face of the obelisk read simply, “A Memorial to the Dead.”

Farewell to Manzanar is itself a poignant memorial to both the living and the dead, who endured the hardships and indignities of internment simply because of their Japanese ancestry.

1 comment:

Bellezza said...

In your inimitable teacher style you show me two things I've never known before: that senryu is "human haiku", and that Manzanar is part of our national parks.

I would especially like to visit there after my awareness of Japanese internment camps was brought to the forefront with Julie Otsuka's book "When The Emporer Was Divine." It's a short, but incredibly moving story of one family's experience which I'm sure is the epitome for many families at that time.

What a fascinating post.