National Park Service
U.S. Department of the Interior
"We had about one week to dispose of what we
owned, except what we could pack and carry for our departure
by bus...for Manzanar."
Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941, led
the United States into World War II and radically changed
the lives of 120,000 men, women, and children of Japanese
ancestry living in the United States. The attack intensified
racial prejudices and led to fear of potential sabotage
and espionage by Japanese Americans among some in the
government, military, news media, and public. In February
1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive
Order 9066 authorizing the Secretary of War to establish
Military Areas and to remove from those areas anyone
who might threaten the war effort. Without due process,
the government gave everyone of Japanese ancestry living
on the West Coast only days to decide what to do with
their houses, farms, businesses, and other possessions.
Most families sold their belongings at a significant
loss. Some rented their properties to neighbors. Others
left possessions with friends or religious groups. Some
abandoned their property. They did not know where they
were going or for how long. Each family was assigned
an identification number and loaded into cars, buses,
trucks, and trains, taking only what they could carry.
Japanese Americans were transported under military guard
to 17 temporary assembly centers located at racetracks,
fairgrounds, and similar facilities in Washington, Oregon,
California and Arizona. Then they were moved to one
of 10 hastily built relocation centers. By November
1942 the relocation was complete.
Manzanar National Historic Site was established to preserve
the stories of the internment of nearly 120,000 Japanese
Americans during World War II and to serve as a reminder
to this and future generations of the fragility of American
Manzanar National Historic Site is 200 miles north
of Los Angeles on U.S. 395. The Eastern California Museum
in Independence has several exhibits related to Manzanar.
In 2004, the Manzanar National Historic Site Interpretive
Center opened within the restored auditorium, with exhibits
and a film. Eventually, two barracks, a mess hall, a
guard tower, and some rock gardens will be reconstructed
To learn more about Manzanar, please read the historical
of Manzanar Relocation Center, a Special History
Study provided by the National Park Service.