After besting the Hollywood Dodgers at their morning basketball game in Montebello, the Venice Dolphins basketball team came directly to the northwest corner of Venice and Lincoln Boulevards.   They swept up the sidewalk debris from the two bus stop shelters on Venice and on Lincoln to the Venice Japanese American Memorial Monument, and wiped down the VJAMM with Windex and soft cloths. Girl Scout leader Victoria Yamashita offered to volunteer her Scouts, many of whom also play basketball for the Venice Dolphins, to spruce up the VJAMM in time for the VJAMM Commemoration on Thursday, April 19, 2018, from 10 am to 11:30 am at the site of the VJAMM. The VJAMM Committee deeply appreciates the participation of Iris Hirata, Lindsey Kojima, Ally Lee, Amanda Matsubara, Jacklyn Oldoerp, Chrissy Wakasa, and Ally Yamashita.

One of the Girls Scouts, Lindsey Kojima, will soon be interviewed for her proposed Gold Award Project. Lindsey will create a children’s book and a video about the VJAMM. The project will feature images of the VJAMM, and interviews with former Manzanar internees who provided poignant quotes for the VJAMM.   VJAMM Committee member Phyllis Hayashibara will help coordinate Lindsey’s interviews with VJAMM Committee members who had been incarcerated at Manzanar, including Mae Kakehashi of Venice, Arnold Maeda of Santa Monica, Brian Maeda who was born in Manzanar, and Amy Ioki (not a VJAMM Committee member) of Malibu, and Dr. Thomas Yoshikawa (not a VJAMM Committee member).

The late Yosh Tomita, formerly of Venice, interned in Manzanar as a youngster, and a charter member of the VJAMM Committee, provided a quote that expressed gratitude to the “many Nisei and Sansei who worked successfully for redress and reparations with the passage of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988.” The April 19, 2018 VJAMM Commemoration will pay tribute to the 30th anniversary of the Civil Liberties Act, signed by President Ronald Reagan. The Act acknowledged that the basis for the forced removal and incarceration of persons of Japanese ancestry stemmed from “race prejudice, war hysteria, and a failure of political leadership” rather than valid national security concerns. The act granted each surviving internee $20,000 in reparations, apologized on behalf of the people of the United States, and provided for a public education fund to ensure that the past internment does not set a precedent for future violations of Constitutional rights.

The Commemoration will also remember that seventy-six years ago, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order on February 19, 1942, setting the stage for the forced removal of 120,000 persons of Japanese ancestry from the west coast, and for their incarceration in American concentration camps for the duration of World War II, in complete violation of their Constitutional rights of due process and the writ of habeas corpus.

Lindsey’s Gold Award book and video project will bring the VJAMM and Japanese American history to a younger generation. She will also conduct workshops for students to learn about the VJAMM and the history the VJAMM represents, encouraging her students to visit the VJAMM with a study guide/questionnaire, and will develop a patch program for Scouts and other youth groups, so the lessons of this history is never forgotten.

The final lesson of the VJAMM comes in the last paragraph on the front of the monument: “May this Venice Japanese American Memorial Monument remind us to be forever vigilant about defending our Constitutional rights. The powers of government must never again perpetrate an injustice against any group based solely on ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, race, or religion.”

Please visit www.venicejamm.org for the complete VJAMM text and all five quotes.

Submitted by Phyllis Hayashibara