The date was April 28, 1942. Arnold Maeda, then a student at Santa Monica High School, reported to the intersection of Lincoln and Venice boulevards and had no idea where he would be taken.
Later that day, he arrived at Manzanar.
Maeda spent more than 40 months behind the Inyo County detention facility’s barbed wires as tens of thousands of Japanese Americans were interned by the U.S. government during World War II at sites across the western half of the country.
He and his family shared a small shelter with another family. It had a single light bulb and no running water.
Maeda came back to Southern California after the war — he has lived in Mar Vista since 1958 — and he struggled to come to terms with how he and other internees had been treated by their own country.
“Whenever I came near this intersection, I would react with deep emotional feelings,” he said at a 2012 event — 70 years after the start of his imprisonment. “(But) … that visceral feeling has been replaced by feelings of hope.”
His hope is due in part to serious momentum in the effort to install the Venice Japanese American Memorial Marker, which he and other organizers have sought for years to put in place at the busy Los Angeles intersection where hundreds of Santa Monica, Malibu and Venice residents boarded buses to Manzanar.
The memorial committee has been hard at work to bring the project to fruition, winding its way through numerous local and state government agencies to receive approval and appropriate permits.
In 2012, the National Park Service awarded organizers a $50,000 grant to design, build and install a commemorative obelisk.
This past August, members of the memorial committee and a representative of Los Angeles City Councilor Mike Bonin presented plans to the Cultural Affairs Commission, which approved the project.
On March 25, the L.A. public works board approved a recommendation by the city’s Office of Community Beautification to allow for the 9-foot-6 monument to be erected at the northwest corner of Lincoln and Venice boulevards.
As the committee awaits additional permits and hashes out a required maintenance plan, it will host its fourth-annual fundraiser April 23 at Hama Sushi (213 Windward Ave.) in Venice. The restaurant’s proprietor, Esther Chaing, has donated more than $7,500 towards the monument over the last three years.
Chaing will again donate all proceeds from the day’s $20 bento box lunches, which must be pre-ordered through Phyllis Hayashibara either by phone at 310-390-1576 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. For curbside pickup of pre-ordered box lunches from noon to 2 p.m., call 310-717-3393 upon arrival on the day of the fundraiser.
Chaing will also donate 10 percent of that evening’s dinner sales to the monument project. For reservations, call Hama Sushi at 310-396-8783.
For more information about the monument, visit www.venicejamm.org.
“Let this monument be a constant reminder not to let injustices of this nature happen again,” Maeda said.
Contact Jeff Goodman at 310-573-8351, email@example.com or on Twitter.