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Japanese-Americans interned during World War II honored by SFSU


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April 19, 2002
A view of the garden

Nearly 300 people gathered today for the dedication of the Garden of Remembrance, a permanent CampusMemorial honoring Americans of Japanese ancestry who were sent to internment camps during World War II.

President Robert Corrigan led the ceremony with an introduction that reminded the audience of the memorial's purpose.

"We have gathered here--some of you travelling from as far as our Sister City of Osaka--to acknowledge the past, honor those our nation wronged, and rededicate ourselves to a future in which such things will never--never--be repeated," A priest performs the purification ceremony Corrigan said.

A purification ceremony for the garden (pictured right), located in the courtyard between Burk Hall and the Fine Arts building, followed the President's introduction. Mayor of Osaka Takafumi Isomura, Consul General of Japan Shigeru Nakamura, California State Librarian Kevin Starr and Japanese American community members were among those who attended the ceremony.

In particular, the memorial recognizes 19 Japanese-American students forced to withdraw from their classes at SFSU in 1942 to be interned in camps. Two of these former students, Helen (Nitta) Hori and Kaya Ruth (Kitagawa) Sugiyama, both San Francisco residents, attended the ceremony. A detail from the plaque showing where internment camps were located

The central piece of the memorial is a waterfall (pictured at top) designed by renowned Japanese-American artist Ruth Asawa, a former camp internee, that signifies the return of the internees to the coastline after the war. Ten large boulders in the grassy area next to Burk Hall represent each of the camps set up during World War II. The names of the 19 former SFSU students who were interned and the names of the camps are listed on a bronze, scroll-shaped marker (see detail of the scroll on upper right). The marker also tells the story of the internment through official documents.

This is not the first time SFSU has recognized the 19 students who were taken to internment camps. In 1998, they received honorary degrees, as did Asawa.

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Last modified April 19, 2002, by the Office of Public Affairs