Internee to Discuss Heart Mountain at WWCC

Internee to Discuss Heart Mountain at WWCC
Japanese-American children are pictured at the Heart Mountain Relocation Center in Park County.

ROCK SPRINGS — The Western Wyoming Community College Cultural Affairs Committee is proud to join with the History Program and the Wesswick Foundation to welcome guest speaker Sam Mihara to campus on Tuesday, March 15, at 7 p.m. for the program “Memories of Imprisonment at Heart Mountain.” This program, free and open to the public, offers a firsthand look at an important yet little-discussed chapter in Wyoming and American history: the imprisonment of thousands of American citizens of Japanese descent during World War II. The event will be held in Room 1302.

Mihara is a second-generation Japanese American (Nisei) who was born and raised in San Francisco in the early 1930s, and who was forcibly relocated by the U.S. government to the Heart Mountain camp with his family at the age of nine. The Mihara family remained at Heart Mountain with the other detainees for three years. Heart Mountain was one of 10 such camps in the United States that together housed a total of 120,000 West Coast residents of Japanese ancestry, most of them U.S.-born American citizens.

Seventy years have passed since that mass incarceration of American citizens. Mihara is one of the few survivors of the Japanese-American imprisonment who is willing to speak about his experiences. He has created informative and entertaining programs and presentations that describe the conditions he, his family, and his close friends experienced. Mihara’s detailed descriptions of that time and place in American history inevitably lead to questions for our own era, such as, “Can such a thing happen again?”

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At Western on March 15, Mihara will participate in a series of educational events at the Rock Springs campus, including a classroom visit, a brown-bag lunch discussion, and the evening program, all of which are free and open to the public. At 10 a.m., Mr. Mihara will visit with the American Women’s History class in Room 1306 at the Rock Springs campus. The brown-bag lunch discussion will be held from 11:30 a.m. – 12:45 p.m. in Room 1309. The evening program will take place at 7 p.m. in Room 1302.

As the World War II era recedes ever further into history, opportunities to hear firsthand about the internment of Japanese-American citizens become fewer. Mr. Mihara’s story is an American story and a Wyoming story, one that emphasizes the importance of protecting American democracy and freedoms for all citizens in times of peace and war.

Western’s History Program and Cultural Affairs Committee are proud to partner with the Wesswick Foundation to present “Memories of Imprisonment at Heart Mountain,” with guest speaker Sam Mihara, on Tuesday, March 15, at 7 p.m. in Room 1302. This event is free and open to the public, and refreshments will be provided.