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National Park Service grants $2.9 million for WWII Japanese internment projects

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The National Park Service has announced 21 grants totaling more than $2.9 million to help preserve and interpret the World War II internment sites of Japanese Americans.

More than 120,000 Japanese Americans -- two-thirds of whom were American citizens -- were imprisoned by the U.S. government following Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor Dec. 7, 1941, the National Park Service (NPS) noted in its statement.

The NPS "is committed to sharing this tragic episode of our nation's past and what it teaches us about the fragility of our constitutional rights," NPS director Jonathan B. Jarvis said in the June 12 announcement. "These grants fund projects to help us gain a better understanding of the past, engage new audiences, and build new partnerships in the preservation of these historic sites and lessons they hold."

The Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center in Washington, D.C. will receive more than $238,000 for its "Congressional Gold Medal Digital Exhibition: The Untold Stories of the Nisei Soldiers". The actual exhibit toured seven U.S. cities in 2013 before returning to the National Museum of American History.

The Congressional Gold Medal was awarded in 2011 to the 100th Infantry Battalion veterans, in recognition of their exceptional service, sacrifice and loyalty to America. It was the first combat unit in U.S. Army history to be comprised exclusively of second generation (Nisei) Japanese Americans.

Other projects selected include:

  • Creation of exhibits for the new Topaz Museum and Education Center in Delta, Utah, 16 miles from the Topaz incarceration site -- more than $497,000.
  • University of California Berkeley for "Voices in Confinement: A Digital Archive of Japanese American Internees" -- more than $287,000.
  • Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colo. for "Confinement in the Land of Enchantment" (New Mexico) - Historic Markers, Publication, and Website Implementation -- almost $190,000.
  • "Speak Out for Justice" DVD video series by Nikkei for Civil Rights and Redress organization. The series highlights the testimonies of 157 people before a 1981 public hearing of the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians -- $12,650.

Others range from an educational training program for 600 teachers across California, about the forced removal and incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II, to stabilization of the historic elementary school at the former Poston site in Arizona.

The Japanese American Confinement Sites Grant Program supports projects in seven states and D.C. The program's awards now total more than $15 million since Congress established the program in 2006. A total of $38 million in grant funds was authorized for the life of the program.

For details of the 21 winning projects, visit http://www.nps.gov/hps/hpg/JACS/.

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