Sunday, August 12, 2012

Topaz Museum Groundbreaking

We took a break from the Millard County Fair on Saturday morning to go to the main park in Delta for the Topaz Internment Camp Museum Groundbreaking. Topaz was one of several internment camps during World War II. Over 110,000 Americans of Japanese descent were taken from their homes and put into camps for years. They were never charged with any crimes, yet they had to stay in the camps, surrounded by barbed wire fences and guards. Over 11,000 were processed at Topaz, out in the Great Basin desert.

Jane Beckwith started the push to recognize Topaz about twenty years ago. Since that time, the Topaz Museum Board has accomplished a lot. They've bought 634 acres of the 640 acre site of Topaz. It was named a National Historic Landmark by the National Park Service. They also purchased property on Main Street for the Topaz Museum and received a NPS grant to design the exhibits. They've raised $1.6 million toward their goal of $2.3 million. They've also done a lot of outreach over the years, spreading the word about what happened at Topaz.

That outreach has been successful, as there was a very good turnout.

Toru Saito shared two songs with the crowd.

Willie Ito, a former Topaz Internee, spoke. He was a child during the war, and he practiced his cartoon drawing. Later he was employed as a cartoonist for the movie industry. It was good to hear something positive came out of the terrible idea of Topaz and the other internment camps.

Drummers from the Kenshin Taiko group performed amazing numbers on their huge drums.

The sound echoed all around the park.

Next was the groundbreaking for the museum. It will be located next to the Great Basin Museum on Main Street. Delta is sure getting classy with two museums on Main Street!

The rest of the day included tours to the Topaz site, presentations, more Taiko drumming, the showing of the digital mapping project of the site, and more.

To learn more about Topaz, check out their excellent website, which includes links in the Digital Archive section to photos and newspapers from the 1940s.

1 comment:

Chanelle said...

OH FUN! We just went and saw the old site of Topaz in May. I'll have to check out the museum the next time we are down there.

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