In the Spring of 2011, the Only What We Can Carry Project at Global Source Education led our third delegation of Bainbridge Islanders to the Manzanar National Historic Site, in Independence, CA. This year, we invited a team from Woodward Middle School along current and former Bainbridge Island residents whose families were impacted by the events of WWII, to retrace the historic 1942 journey of Bainbridge Island Japanese Americans to their incarceration at the former Manzanar concentration camp. This site which is currently preserved and managed by the National Park Service.
The team of Woodward Middle School educators included Principal Mike Florian, Librarian Patti Schlosser, and 7th grade humanities teachers, Jessica Bender and Stacie Munoz. Our community leaders on the delegation were Mary Woodward, daughter of former Bainbridge Review owners and editors, Walt and Millie Woodward, who are namesakes of Woodward School, and Lilly Kodama and her brother Frank Kitamoto, who were 3 & 7 years old when their family . Former Bainbridge Island resident, Ted Kitayama, who was 12, when his family was forced to leave Bainbridge Island, drove from his home near San Jose, CA to Manzanar to join our delegation.
This year, with the focus on Woodward Middle School and the Woodward family experience during WWII, OWWCC sought to collect stories about acts of good conscience on Bainbridge Island and other communities impacted by the Japanese American exclusion. So along with Mary Woodward, we invited Karen McCormic Beierle, who grew up on Bainbridge, to join her childhood classmate and friend, Frank Kitamoto, to bear witness to what her Japanese American neighbors endured through interment.
We were especially honored that Fumiko Hayashida and her daughter Natalie Hayashida Ong joined our delegation, for their first trip back to Manzanar. At 100, Mrs. Hayashida is the oldest surviving Bainbridge Islander to have been incarcerated at Manzanar. The image (above left) of this mother and her daughter of 13 months at the Bainbridge Island dock on March 30, 1942, has become an iconic national symbol of the Japanese American internment experience. The photo of mother and daughter (above right) was taken during our trip to Manzanar.
We received a grant from the Bainbridge Island Arts and Humanities Council, through our partnership with the Bainbridge Island Historical Museum, to professionally document the historic occasion of Fumiko Hayashida’s first trip back to the the former Manzanar concentration camp. It was an honor have the Ken Mochizuki, well known for his body of work on the Japanese American Experience, including the award winning children’s book, Baseball Saved Us, accompany our delegation to write about the experience. We were also accompanied by local videographer, Cameron Snow, who filmed our journey to Manzanar for an historical record and educational tool for this and future generations.
Read news stories about our 2011 OWWCC Delegation to Manzanar:
Writer Martha Nakagawa and photographer Mario Reyes traveled from Los Angeles to document our 2011 OWWCC Delegation to Manzanar for Rafu Shimpo. Nakagawa’s story and Reyes’ photographs are featured in two parts.