On Monday, April 25 at 10AM, The Venice Japanese Memorial Marker Committee (VJAMM) will host a groundbreaking ceremony for the memorial marker which will be placed on the northwest corner of Venice and Lincoln Boulevards near the former “Civil Control Station” where in April of 1942, local residents from Venice, Santa Monica and Malibu assembled and then boarded buses to the Manzanar War Relocation Authority Camp where they would spend the next three years of their lives.
Ceremonial speakers will include District 11 L.A. City Councilmember Bill Rosendahl, Venice Neighborhood Council President Linda Lucks, former Manzanar internee Arnold Maeda, Manzanar Pilgrimage Committee member Brian Maeda, from the Free Venice Beachhead Jim Smith, Venice High School graduate Scott Pine and teacher Phyllis Hayashibara, Chair of the Venice Arts Council Emily Winters and Venice High School Alumni Association member Nikki Gilbert.
In words excerpted from Councilmember Bill Rosendahl’s July 16, 2010 motion, this “commemorative marker . . . [would] serve as a constant reminder of the denial of U. S. Constitutional rights to a minority group that simply shared the ethnicity of the nation that attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941” and would “commemorate the start of the internment of hundreds of Japanese Americans living in the Venice community on April 25, 1942.”
Artist Emily Winters, along with VJAMM committee members, incorporated into the memorial marker’s design, suggestions made at a community meeting held on another historic date, September 11th at the Venice Hongwanji Buddhist Temple. A picture of the marker that will include a bronze plaque on top of a concrete pedestal will be on display. (The lettering on the plaque is attached).
Venice High School teacher Phyllis Hayashibara said, “It’s very gratifying to know that there are people in the Venice community who care about their history, and are doing something about preserving it. It’s especially inspiring that one of my students revitalized the almost decade-long effort to commemorate the northwest corner of Venice and Lincoln simply by bringing in a Free Venice Beachhead article for a current event discussion in class. That very small gesture in April 2009 has led to a coalition of community partners who are actively engaged in getting the Venice Japanese American Memorial Marker designed and installed –we hope before the passing of the last generation of Manzanar internees.”
VJAMM committee was formed as an ad-hoc group to create a memorial honoring Venice-area Americans of Japanese descent who were ordered, per the US Government’s “Civilian Exclusion Orders,” to abandon their homes, pets, businesses and possessions and then, although having committed no crime, were imprisoned. The committee is comprised of members from: the Free Venice Beachhead Don Geagan and Jim Smith, Venice High School Alumni Association Nikki Gilbert, Venice High School teacher Phyllis Hayashibara, Venice Culver JACL Fred Hoshiyama, former internees Mae Kakehashi, Arnold Maeda and Yosh Tomita, Manzanar Pilgrimage Committee Brian Maeda, Venice Historical Society Marc Salvatierra, Venice Peace and Freedom Party Alice Stek, and Co-Founders of the Venice Arts Council Suzanne Thompson and Emily Winters.
While most Venice residents remain unaware of the role this heavily traveled intersection played in the lives of many of their former and current neighbors, the spot is one that continues to affect the lives of those ordered there almost seventy years ago, including Arnold Maeda of Santa Monica: “I have such a personal connection to this corner, and I always point out this location to any of my passengers as we drive by. I always have had a very visceral, emotional response to even thinking about my incarceration. But with discussion of this marker, my negative feelings have somehow dissipated and have been replaced with feelings of hope.”
The VJAMM has support from District 11 Councilman Bill Rosendahl, California State Assembly member Betsy Butler, California State Senator Ted Lieu, Venice Neighborhood Council, Beyond Baroque, Free Venice Beachhead, Nikkei Student Union at UCLA, Japanese American Citizens League (Culver-Venice Chapter), Social and Public Art Resource Center (SPARC), Venice Arts Council, Venice Community Coalition, Venice Community Housing Corporation, Venice Heritage Foundation, Venice High School Alumni Association, Venice High School New Media Academy students, Venice Historical Society, Venice Hongwanji Buddhist Temple, Venice Japanese Community Center, Venice Peace and Freedom Party, and the Venice Town Council.
“As a Venice High School graduate and a current student at Santa Monica College, I’ve realized the essential importance of learning outside the classroom. The same principle applies to history; its value is realized beyond school textbooks and is experienced in our communities. With each passing day we contribute to our narrative and its our moral imperative to do our best to make each historic moment one worth growing, learning, and understanding from.” Scott Pine
Portions of the costs for the memorial marker have been secured from several individuals and the Council office. Additional funding requests are pending. Tax-deductible contributions can be made payable to VCHC/VAC specify “VJAMM” in the memo section of the check and mail to Venice Arts Council/VJAMM, PO Box 993, Venice, CA 90294.