|Layout of Camp Amache|
We ate lunch at a Mexican restaurant in downtown La Junta, a nice little town that lays claim to a huge wind farm to the south. It was a hot and windy day. Didn't take long to notice the difference in altitude from Colorado Springs.
Eastern Colorado quickly turns into large ranches and this route is home to many cattle feed lots. As the pasture lands lasted for miles I was almost lulled into not paying attention. Thank God I didn't succumb because we sped right past a small sign on the right side of the road just before we reached the little town of Granada.
The sign that caught my attention? I only saw three words but they were enough to quicken my heart rate and to make us turn around. "Japanese-American Relocation..."
Let me preface this by saying that our cousin, Kim Hooper, had just loaned me a book she loves, "Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet." It is a story based on the Japanese-American relocation program in WWII. What a co-incidence that I finished the book the night before I saw that sign on a long stretch of highway (a good book, by the way).
We turned in at the sign that read "Camp Amache, Japanese-American Relocation Center, 1942-1945."
|Monument in Camp Amache|
|Guard Tower site|
On the other hand, I pictured young Americans of Japanese descent who were American citizens being educated in American schools and living American culture. To many of them, their Japanese heritage was a compilation of stories and photographs about parents and grandparents - much like my Irish heritage.
|Foundations - all that's left today|
|31 residents KIA with 442nd Inf Reg|
|Camp Amache 1942 (from website)|
Many second-generation Japanese fought in WWII. Wikipedia states: "The 442nd Infantry, formerly the 442nd Regimental Combat Team of the United States Army, was an Asian American unit composed of mostly Japanese Americans who fought in Europe during World War II. The families of many of its soldiers were subject to internment. The 442nd was a self-sufficient fighting force, and fought with uncommon distinction in Italy, southern France, and Germany. The unit became the most highly decorated regiment in the history of the United States Armed Forces, including 21 Medal of Honor recipients."
* On May 18, 1994, Amache was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and was designated a National Historic Landmark on February 10, 2006.
For more information and photos of the camp, check out http://www.amache.org/, http://www.colorado.gov/dpa/doit/archives/wwcod/granada6.htm and www.sfmuseum.org/hist10/relocbook.html. If you google, Camp Amache, you'll find other sites too.