Manzanar: Presentation - A Veteran's Day Story


In 1943, twenty-two year old Marine Pfc. Robert E. Borchers returned from fighting in the Pacific to learn that the United States had incarcerated 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry, two-thirds of whom were U.S. citizens. In October, he wrote a fiery letter in defense of Japanese Americans, saying “We are fighting for freedom for all Americans regardless of their ancestry. Yes, we believe in those things for which we fight and we believe in fighting until we get those inalienable rights, liberty and justice for all, no matter how long it takes to secure them.” His letter was published in Time magazine, angering some but lifting the spirits of many others — including Japanese Americans who read his words from behind barbed-wire.

At 2:00 p.m., Saturday, November 11, 2017, Robert Borchers will share his late father’s incredible story in the West Theater at Manzanar National Historic Site. A Color Guard from the Bishop Paiute Tribe has been invited to participate. Ross Stone of the Big Pine Paiute Tribe will speak about local Native American veterans, and Manzanar’s Latino Heritage Intern Rocio Gomez will highlight Ralph Lazo, a Mexican-Irish American who joined his Japanese American friends in Manzanar. He lived in the camp until 1944 when he volunteered for the US military.

“As we honor the many contributions by these special military veterans, I am reminded that veterans throughout our nation’s history have been protecting our freedoms and our constitution. I invite all veterans to join us and share your own, or a loved one’s story,” Superintendent Bernadette Johnson said. “You are welcome to bring photos or other memorabilia to show.”

Manzanar’s non-profit partner, Manzanar History Association (MHA), is making the program possible by supporting Mr. Borchers’ travel from Wisconsin. MHA will provide light refreshments after the program.

The program is free and open to the public. The Manzanar Visitor Center is open 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily. It features extensive permanent exhibits and a 22-minute introductory film, Remembering Manzanar. Nearby, a World War II-era mess hall and two reconstructed barracks interpret the challenges of daily life. An auto tour road circles the site, passing Japanese gardens, historic orchards, the cemetery, and more.

A Veteran's Day Story: Pfc. Robert E. Borcher's Fight for Freedom
When: Sat., Nov. 11 (2pm)

Where: Manzanar, 5001 Hwy. 395, six miles south of Independence, California.
Cost: Admission is free
Questions: 760-878-2194 ext. 3310
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