By Barbara Mizoguchi
The North American Post
Many of you are aware of the November 2, 2022, article in this newspaper about the concept of the Remembrance Gallery at the Washington State Fairgrounds. Much progress has been made since then, so I thought it was high time for an update.
▲The entrance with potential floor-to-ceiling glass doors
The gallery will be a permanent exhibit listing all 76,000 names of Japanese descendants who were unjustly incarcerated on the fairgrounds during World War II. There will be interpretive displays and a life-size example of the horse stalls used to house the incarcerees.
▲A replica inside the gallery of the horse stalls where some families were forced to live
▲A display inside the main gallery with internee names permanently listed on the right. In the background will be an interactive area.
The committee in charge of pushing this project forward consists of Puyallup Valley–Japanese American Citizen League (PV-JACL) Board of Directors President Eileen Yamada Lamphere, board member Liz Begert Dunbar, member and project manager Sharon Sobie Seymour and me serving as a volunteer consultant.
We have been regularly meeting, planning and developing the gallery with design and technology company Belle and Wissell and exhibit manager Jill Randerson.
This month, the design plans were finalized. Contractors are now being hired, and fundraising is underway. To date, the committee has raised $1.5 million of its $2 million goal. Other grant applications are pending, and many individuals and families are contributing. It is hoped that construction will begin in late spring with completion this fall.
The gallery concept began in 2017 to honor those who were unjustly incarcerated at the assembly center on the fairgrounds (formerly the Puyallup Fairgrounds). Men, women and children of Japanese descent in the Puget Sound area and Alaska were gathered in 1942 due to anti-Japanese hysteria during the war. They were initially sent to the assembly center with minimal belongings and lived there for approximately four and one-half months before being sent to permanent War Relocation Centers in the interior of the United States until the war ended.
We hope the gallery will be a place for visitors to learn about the history of the fairgrounds and the Japanese descendants from the area and to find solace for those affected by the incarceration. Those of us volunteering on the project believe that if the gallery helps raise awareness about discrimination in the past, present and future, it will be a success.