Monuments in Fresno and Clovis are public reminders of how the U.S. government imprisoned Japanese immigrants and Japanese Americans during World War II, and the community’s rich history in the Valley.
▪ The Pinedale Assembly Center memorial at 625 W. Alluvial Ave., in front of a vacant office complex, was the first major memorial built. It was dedicated in 2009 through fundraising by the Japanese American Citizens League. It features storyboards and a fountain sculpture.
▪ An even more elaborate memorial was built at the Fresno Fairgrounds. Dedicated in 2011, the memorial is difficult to miss walking through the Chance Avenue gate. It pays homage to more than 5,000 Central California residents detained on the property.
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The memorial features storyboards and names of nearly all those who were housed on the fairgrounds site.
The commemorations “teach a lesson in history that we should not repeat the mistakes of the past,” said Fresno County Superior Court Judge Dale Ikeda, a board member of the Central California District Council of the Japanese American Citizens League.
4Number of Fresno and Clovis monuments commemorating World War II Japanese internment
▪ At Clovis and Jensen avenues, Dennis Simonian commissioned construction of a tower that is made from lumber retrieved from the former barracks of the Poston, Arizona, internment camp. The tower honors four local families of Japanese descent who taught him the “value of hard work, honesty and setting goals,” he told The Bee in June 2016.
▪ In 2014, Clovis dedicated a storyboard and sculpture of farmer Fumio “Ike” Ikeda at the northeast corner of Shaw and Clovis avenues.
The storyboard features a World War II-era letter from Clovis residents calling themselves the Clovis Committee on National Security and Fair Play, including then-Mayor Luther Weldon, offering their help.
“Many of us know many of you personally and are confident of your loyalty to the United States … ” the letter states. “After this unfortunate conflict is over, you will be welcomed back to this community and to your accustomed occupations of life.”