Toward a More Inclusive America: Preserving All Chapters of Our Nation’s History

Ed. Note: This is a cross-post from the Department of the Interior's website.

Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States removed thousands of Japanese Americans from their homes and relocated them to internment camps scattered across the West.

If we are to tell the full story of America, we must ensure that we include painful chapters such as this one - the internment of 120,000 Japanese Americans during World War II. Yesterday, the National Park Service – our nation’s storyteller, in many ways – announced funding that will help preserve and interpret the ten War Relocation Authority camps and other sites associated with the internment.

The internment sites serve as powerful reminders that we must always be vigilant in upholding civil liberties for all. The 17 grants announced yesterday will help preserve these sites and their stories so that future generations won’t forget or repeat this shameful episode.

The projects include a documentary film about an isolation center on the Navajo Reservation in Arizona and the return of a former barracks building to its original internment camp site in southeastern Colorado. These efforts preserve these important historical sites and they bring home the lessons of identity and prejudice.

Yesterday’s announcement is part of our vision for a more inclusive America – one where the contributions and cultural heritage of all people is celebrated and commemorated.

From the newly-established Fort Monroe National Monument - the site where Dutch traders brought enslaved Africans to this nation, to the addition of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial to the National Mall, to the dedication of Cesar Chavez’s 40 Acres as a National Historic Landmark, we are ensuring that our nation’s strength is revealed through our diverse and inclusive character.

 Ken Salazar is the Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior.

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