POWELL, Wyo. — The Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation announces its Annual Pilgrimage, with the focus of honoring the service of veterans to the country.
With the theme of “Honoring Selfless Service,” this year’s events will recognize soldiers who were incarcerated at Heart Mountain during World War II. The events will take place at the Heart Mountain World War II Japanese American Confinement Site in northwest Wyoming on Friday and Saturday, Aug. 22-23.
Headlining the event will be the dedication of the Heart Mountain Honor Roll Memorial to the late Sen. Daniel K. Inouye. The Honor Roll was built at Heart Mountain by internees in 1944, and the site has been preserved by the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation, a private non-profit, in recent years.
Inouye was a great American patriot who served the country both as a highly decorated veteran of World War II and as a government official. A Medal of Honor recipient, Inouye nearly lost his life in battle and went on to become the first Japanese American to serve in Congress, where he rose to the rank of president pro tempore of the U.S. Senate.
Guest speakers will include Sen. Inouye’s widow, Irene Hirano Inouye; former Sen. Al Simpson of Wyoming; and former Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta, who was interned at Heart Mountain as a child.
There will also be a special screening of “a Flicker in Eternity” with the filmmaker. This film tells the touching story of Stanley Hayami, who was incarcerated at Heart Mountain as a teenager and gave his life in service as a member of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. His story is told through the diary and letters he kept during his incarceration and service.
In addition, a dinner banquet with distinguished speakers will be held on Aug. 22 at the Holiday Inn in Cody, Wyo.
“As our most important event, the Annual Pilgrimage serves our mission by educating the public about the history of Japanese American confinement and engaging visitors in a discussion about racial prejudice and civil rights, as well as hopefully providing an opportunity for socializing and healing for former internees and their families,” said Brian Liesinger, executive director of the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation.
In preparation for the event, the HMWF has begun a campaign to identify and invite as many living Heart Mountain veterans as possible in an effort to honor them at the pilgrimage. As a key partner, the Go For Broke National Education Center (GFBNEC) in Torrance has lent its support to the event. The GFBNEC is a non-profit with educational programs about the history of the Japanese American veterans of World War II.
Fundraising is under way to provide travel stipends to bring veterans to the event. The HMWF is asking any Heart Mountain veterans or anyone still in touch with Heart Mountain veterans to email email@example.com or call (307) 754-8000. In addition, the HMWF is seeking individuals and organizations to help sponsor these veterans. Interested sponsors are asked to use the above contact information.
“The reason we continue to use the moniker ‘The Greatest Generation’ is because it still rings true, and the veterans of World War II continue to inspire future generations with their selfless service,” Liesinger said. “We feel we must bring back and honor those whose lives were intertwined not only with war but also with incarceration at Heart Mountain.”
Registration for both day’s events, including the banquet on Friday and lunch on Saturday at the Heart Mountain site, can be made online at heartmountain.org/pilgrimage.html or over the phone.
Located between Cody and Powell, Wyo. on Highway 14a, the Heart Mountain World War II Japanese American Confinement Site features an Interpretive Center that is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $7 for adults, $5 for seniors and students; children under 12 are free. For more information call (307) 754-8000 or visit www.HeartMountain.org.