Jr. YBA members did maintenance work for the VJAMM on Venice and Lincoln during a busy Obon Festival weekend.

Members of the Junior Young Buddhist Association of the Venice Hongwanji Buddhist Temple volunteered to help maintain the Venice Japanese American Memorial Monument on July 15, in the midst of their very busy Obon Festival weekend.

Under the supervision of adult sponsor Vickie Tokirio, members Lindley Kojima, Matthew Kojima, Amanda Matsubara, Jared Matsubayashi, Toni Tokirio, Alyssa Uyeda, and Chrissy Wakasa toweled off the granite obelisk with Windex and swept up the sidewalk debris between the two bus shelters on Venice and Lincoln boulevards.

David Williams of the Williams Monument Company in Arvin recommended using Windex rather than water to clean the granite, because water contains minerals and impurities that leave a residue when the water dries.

The VJAMM Committee offered bottled water, fruit snacks, and trail mix as refreshments. The Jr. YBA members left immediately after their morning maintenance of the VJAMM to report to their various work shifts in the booths at the VHBT Obon Festival.

The monument was dedicated on April 27 to commemorate the forced removal of 1,000 persons of Japanese ancestry from Venice, Santa Monica, and Malibu and their required assembly on the northwest corner of Venice and Lincoln in April 1942. They brought with them only what they could carry, with only a few days’ notice, and would be transported by bus to the first of ten American concentration camps to be built and eventually administered by the War Relocation Authority, known as Manzanar.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066 of Feb. 19, 1942. After Japan’s attack on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii on Dec. 7, 1941, EO 9066 authorized the U.S. Army to declare areas of Washington, Oregon, and California militarily sensitive and subject to evacuation. Without due process or the writ of habeas corpus, 120,000 persons of Japanese ancestry, two-thirds of whom were born in the U.S., lost their homes, businesses, and liberties for the duration of World War II.

The VJAMM stands as a reminder to all that constitutional rights can and will be violated unless we all know and exercise our rights, so the powers of government will never again be abused in any unjust discrimination or incarceration based solely on one’s ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, race, or religion.

The VJAMM Committee plans to schedule monthly maintenance days with various community youth groups with their adult leaders, and seeks donations of refreshments for the volunteers. If interested in volunteering or donating lunch, contact Phyllis Hayashibara at phyllishayashibara@gmail.com.

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