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The Empty Chair Project receives grant for $80,000

Posted: July 13, 2013 - 11:01pm

Margie Alstead Shackelford sent word of good news for the Empty Chair Project last week. The group had received word they would receive a National Park Service grant to aid in funding the Empty Chair Memorial. It was confirmed in a press release from NPS that the group organizing the memorial, in partnership with the City and Borough of Juneau Parks and Recreation Department, would receive the full amount requested in the grant application for the preservation and interpretation of World War II Japanese American internment. It is one of 14 projects receiving funding around the U.S.

“Our national parks tell the stories not only of American success, but of our failures such as the dark history of the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II,” National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis said in a press release. “We make these grants so that present and future generations are reminded what happened and how the people survived these camps. And we make these grants to demonstrate our nation’s commitment to the concept of ‘equal justice under law’ that grew out of these and other civil rights experiences.”

The goal of this grants program is to teach present and future generations about the injustice of the World War II confinement and inspire a commitment to equal justice under the law. These are competitive grants with required matches – a dollar of non-federal funds or $2 in-kind contributions for every grant dollar.

Shackelford also mentioned work toward the educational component of the Empty Chair memorial. She and Mary Tanaka Abo have been working with the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience and the Songi Sakai Intermediate School in Bainbridge Island, Wash. to develop curriculum.

To coincide with the hopeful installation of the memorial in summer of 2014 — the date for the installation and dedication is in the process of being finalized — Shackelford said there will be a WWII Japanese internment display at the Juneau-Douglas City Museum beginning in May of 2014 and continuing through the summer.

“It will be featuring profiles of interned Juneau families in pictures and text nestled in small suitcases of the era. Historical artifacts, enlarged pictures and documents from the National Archives are among the items being considered. Some of Fumi Matsumoto’s art pieces, focusing on the internment experience at Minidoka, will also be included,” Shackelford said.

Juneau’s Greg Chaney will present a documentary about the removal of Japanese Americans from Juneau, to be shown in the media room.

“Greg Chaney, Ron Inouye, Mary Tanaka Abo and Alice Tanaka Hikido spent four days filming and recording memories of Ham Kumasaka, Walter Fukuyama, Rose Komatsubara, Koji Tada, Jeanne Tanaka, John Tanaka’s wife, and Alice Hikido,” Shackelford said, “Ron Inouye will write a composite of the memories to be used for historical purposes and Greg will be editiing them to create his video. Karleen Grummett is developing a dedication booklet for the occasion”

When the memorial is installed, there will be a dedication ceremony and a public reception following.

“We have begun folding 1,000 cranes for the dedication ceremony as they are symbols of respect for departed ancestors as well as symbols of peace. 1,000 (is) considered a fortuitous number,” Shackelford said.

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