By Affan Shaikh
BISHOP-Saturday April 26th 2008 marked the 39th annual pilgrimage to Manzanar, a World War Two Japanese Interim Camp, located near Bishop, California. Hundreds gathered around a white pillar monument to honor a legacy of the past and to work towards a better future.
The pilgrimage was attended by a diverse group of people of all ages and ethnicities, including undergraduates from UCLA’s Muslim Student Association and members of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR).
The pilgrimage aims to bring awareness to the history of the struggles faced by the Japanese community during their internment. Shahla Khan, a fourth year student at UCLA, viewed the importance of events like this as an opportunity to learn about “a dark era in American History, but also gain valuable insights into the struggles faced by Muslim Americans today.”
The Manzanar cemetery, where five graves still remain today, is marked by a white monument built in 1943, with a Japanese inscription reading “Soul Consoling Tower” that has now become a focal point in the annual pilgrimage.
The event, a collaborative effort that takes place anually the last Saturday of every April was sponsored by several organizations including UCLA’s own Nikkei Student Union.
The day long activities began with a Taiko, or Japanese drum performance by UCLA Kyodo Taiko.