Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe of the 4th District has generously contributed $5,000 to the Venice Japanese American Memorial Marker Committee in support of the building and installation of a permanent monument on the northwest corner of Venice and Lincoln boulevards.
This marks the spot where some 1,000 persons of Japanese ancestry from Venice, Santa Monica, and Malibu lined up with only what they could carry, for transport to the American concentration camp at Manzanar in April 1942.
“The internment of Japanese Americans during World War II,” wrote Knabe in an email to the VJAMM Committee, “remains one of our history’s darkest chapters and a violation of everything our nation holds dear. It is only right that we create a marker of remembrance at the location where Japanese Americans were forced to report before their internment, so that we may never forget their sacrifices in the face of an unjust action, and to prevent any similar discrimination from happening to any Americans ever again.”
In his presentation to the Los Angeles City Council back in May 2009, then-Venice High School student Felix Baron echoed those sentiments in a letter he had sent to then-City Councilmember Bill Rosendahl, asking for his support. Baron wrote, “I think that putting a marker or monument here in Venice would be a great idea because the Japanese American internment was such an important part of our nation’s history.
“On April 25, 1942, all persons of Japanese ancestry in the Venice area were forced to report to Venice and Lincoln to be put on buses and taken to camps. In these concentration camps, Japanese Americans were mistreated by guards, given very little food, and given no rights due to Executive Order 9066 signed by Franklin D. Roosevelt.
“It wasn’t until 1976 that E.O. 9066 was repealed. In 1988, President Reagan signed legislation that apologized for the internment and appropriated over $1 billion in reparations to surviving internees. (Editor’s note: The legislation authorized payments, but money was not appropriated until 1990.) After this, however, the history of the Japanese American internment slowly began to fade, which is why we need the monument here in Venice. Only with this monument can the legacy of the Japanese American internment be remembered, so please support putting up a monument here in Venice so that we won’t make the same mistakes again.”
Seventy-two years after the 1942 exclusion orders, the Venice Japanese American Memorial Marker Committee will be hosting a fundraiser at Hama Sushi in Venice on Wednesday, April 23, to commemorate the beginning of the Japanese American incarceration in 10 War Relocation Authority camps throughout the interior of the United States and to continue towards its goal of raising $100,000 for the VJAMM.
“The VJAMM Committee has raised over $90,000 to date, but soils testing, structural engineering calculations, and civil engineering design plans will add to the costs of the VJAMM,” said VJAMM Committee member Phyllis Hayashibara.
Original estimates for the VJAMM, a 9-foot-6-inch-tall obelisk of solid black granite with a 3-by-3-foot base, also may rise with the costs of fuel and labor and exceed the $38,000 budgeted for the obelisk and $12,000 budgeted for its installation.
Additional funds will be added to the “over match” totals of non-federal monies, while two-thirds of the originally budgeted costs will be reimbursed by a $50,000 matching grant from the National Park Service Japanese American Confinement Sites program, awarded to the VJAMM Committee in March 2012. The federal grant money may not be spent on publicity, including flyers and postcards, and any expenditures associated with fundraising.
“We’ll also need to prepare more than a dozen documents in multiple copies for presentations before the Los Angeles City Public Art Committee and, separately, before the Cultural Affairs Commission,” which had not been anticipated or budgeted with the NPS JACS grant application, said Hayashibara.
Esther Chaing, proprietor of Hama Sushi, once again has generously pledged to donate 100 percent of the bento lunch profits and 10 percent of all dinner sales to the VJAMM Committee on Wednesday, April 23. Each lunch bento costs $20 and includes chicken teriyaki, cucumber and potato salads, spicy tuna and California rolls, shrimp and vegetable tempura, plus water or soda. To pre-order a bento, contact Hayashibara at (310) 390-1576 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For corporate orders, contact Chaing at (310) 308-6347 or email@example.com.
The program of speakers and presentations at Hama Sushi begins at 11 a.m., with lunch pick-up for eating in or taking out from 12 noon to 2 p.m. For dinner reservations between 6 and 11 p.m., call Hama Sushi at (310) 396-8783.
“The members of the VJAMM Committee gratefully acknowledge the support of the community and local representatives,” wrote Hayashibara. In addition to the NPS JACS grant, the VJAMM Committee received $5,000 donations from former City Councilmember Rosendahl of the 11th District, Supervisor Zev Yaroslavskly of the 3rd District and Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas of the 2nd District; and a $1,300 Community Improvement Award from the Venice Neighborhood Council.
For more information, including a complete list of institutional supporters and donors, visit www.venicejamm.org.