The Pinedale Assembly Center Memorial was developed by the Central California District Council (“CCDC”) of the Japanese American Citizens League (“JACL”). JACL is the oldest and largest Asian American human and civil rights organization in America. In 2005, the City of Fresno and a developer approached CCDC regarding a building the developer wanted to demolish. The building was the last remaining structure from the Sugar Pine Lumber Company, which was acquired by the U. S. Army for the Pinedale Assembly Center and later converted to Camp Pinedale. As a condition of demolition, the Pinedale Assembly Center Memorial through a donation of land from the developer and the efforts of CCDC’s Pinedale Assembly Center Memorial Committee, whose members designed the project and financed it through donations from sponsors, grants and fundraising events. The Committee also developed the storyboards on display at the Memorial.
The Memorial is on the City of Fresno and State of California registries of historical sites. California Registered Historic Landmark No. 934 was presented at the groundbreaking ceremony on February 19, 2007, the 65th anniversary of Executive Order No. 9066. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Order on February 19, 1942. The Order authorized the Secretary of War and military commanders designated by him to exclude “any and all persons” from war zones. Gen. John DeWitt, Commander of the Western Defense Command, used the Order as a basis not only to exclude all Japanese Americans from the West Coast, but also to justify the incarceration of over 120,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry, 70% citizens by birth, for nearly four years during WWII. The Memorial was dedicated on February 17, 2009.
One of the primary sponsors for the Memorial was the Clovis Veterans Memorial District (“District”), which donated $65,000 to pay for the cost of the fountain sculpture designed and fabricated by Gerard Tsutakawa. The District ultimately accepted title to the site of the Memorial and serves as a steward of the Memorial, including the ongoing obligations for maintenance, utilities, security and repair. Funding of the Memorial was provided, in part, from a grant of $25,000 from the California State Library through the California Civil Liberties Public Educational Program. Other major sponsors include CCDC-JACL, Fresno County Office of Education, Fresno Chamber of Commerce, O. James Woodward, III, through the Fresno Regional Foundation, Smittcamp Family Foundation, Islamic Cultural Center of Fresno, Inc., Dale and Deborah Ikeda, County Bank, United Security Bank, Union Bank and Citibank.
Members of the Pinedale Assembly Center Memorial Committee were:
Hon. Dale Ikeda, Superior Court Judge for the County of Fresno, Chair
Conrad Jimenez, Project Designer
Elizabeth Laval, Graphic Designer
Paul Saito, Landscape Architect
Louis Brosi, III, of C-III Construction, Builder
John d. Hix
Dean Hiyama, Esq.
Ambassador Phillip V. Sanchez
Members of the Pinedale Assembly Center Memorial Advisory Committee were:
Hon. James A. Ardaiz, Presiding Justice , Fifth District Court of Appeal, Chair
Supervisor Susan B. Anderson, Fresno County Board of Supervisors
Assemblyman Juan Arambula, 31st District
Anthony Capozzi, Past President of the State Bar of California
Congressman Jim Costa, 20th District, California
Prof. James Hirabayashi
Irene Hirano, President and CEO of the Japanese American National Museum
Congressman Mike Honda, 15th District, California
Senator Daniel Inouye, Hawaii
Hon. Anthony W. Ishii, U. S. District Court Judge for the Eastern District of California
Congresswoman Doris Matsui, 5th District, California
Peter G. Mehas, Superintendent of the Fresno County Office of Education
Norman Y. Mineta, U. S. Secretary of Commerce and U. S. Secretary of Transportation
Floyd Mori, National Executive Director of the Japanese American Citizens League
Congressman Chip Pashayan, 17th District, California
Chuck Poochigian, former California State Senator, Justice of Fifth District Court of Appeal
John Tateishi, former National Executive Director of the Japanese American Citizens League