Local youth are working to maintain the Venice Japanese American Memorial Monument.

The Venice Japanese American Memorial Monument Committee thanks the volunteers of YouthBuild of Venice Community Housing, for resuming its regular, monthly maintenance of the VJAMM obelisk on the northwest corner of Venice and Lincoln Boulevards. 

YouthBuild had temporarily suspended all activities in the spring and early summer of 2020 due to social distancing restrictions of the corona virus pandemic. In January, VCH YouthBuild staffers Orlando Nava and Tyquanique Jackson met YB volunteers Alexandria, Carmen, Kaylyn, Roberto, Steven, Aaron, Jorge, Sergio, and Keven. In June, VCH YouthBuild staffer Marisol Perez met YB volunteers Luis Rose, Nehemiah, and Coral.  In July, VCH YouthBuild staffer Brandy Alonzo met YB volunteers Robert, Nehemiah, Luis Rose, Destiny Dex, Devin, Montavius, and Coral.  In September, VCH YouthBuild staffer Orlando Nava met YB volunteers Kaylyn, Jose, Alexandria, Joseph, Geo, and Joey.  The VJAMM Committee deeply appreciates the volunteers, who Windex the solid black granite VJAMM obelisk, and sweep up the accumulated debris from the sidewalks and curbs around the VJAMM.  

VJAMM Committee member Phyllis Hayashibara asks the volunteers to read aloud to each other the VJAMM text on the front, the quotes on the west side, about Manzanar on the back, map side; and to acknowledge the many major donors who have made the VJAMM possible on the east side.  She hopes this gives to the volunteers a sense of the VJAMM’s historical context and current relevancy.  In a moment of bittersweet poignancy, Phyllis noted that the inspiring and outspoken Arnold Maeda had recently passed away on September 10, 2020.  His quote laments having to leave behind his beloved dog, Boy, as he readied for his forced removal from Santa Monica and incarceration in Manzanar at the age of fifteen.   Of the five former Manzanar internees who provided quotes for the VJAMM, only Brian Maeda and Mae Kakehashi remain alive.  Amy Ioki passed away on June 4, 2020; and Yosh Tomita passed away on January 19, 2017.   

Thanks to a generous donation from Dr. Thomas Yoshikawa, the VJAMM Committee provided BBQ chicken bowl lunches from Rutt’s Hawaiian Café for the volunteers in September, who arrived at the VJAMM at noon.  

The VJAMM Committee dedicated the Venice Japanese American Memorial Monument on April 27, 2017.  The VJAMM commemorates the northwest corner of Venice and Lincoln Boulevards, where some 1,000 persons of Japanese ancestry forcibly removed from Venice, Santa Monica, and Malibu reported in April, 1942.  They lined up with only what they could carry, and boarded buses to take them to what would become the War Relocation Camp at Manzanar, where they would be incarcerated in violation of their Constitutional rights to the writ of habeas corpus and due process, most for the duration of World War II.  

Venice YouthBuild, a program of Venice Community Housing, provides education, job training and leadership development services to out-of-school and out-of-work youth, ages 18-24.  Community service comprises an important part of the YouthBuild program.  

Venice Community Housing, a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization, celebrates thirty years of affordable housing and community development, and serves as the fiscal sponsor for the Venice Arts Council and the Venice Japanese American Memorial Monument Committee. 

For more information about the VJAMM, please visit www.venicjamm.org.

Submitted by Phyllis Hayashibara