San Mateo, CA - Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-San Francisco/San Mateo counties) issued the following statement in response to a National Park Service (NPS) announcement to grant $363,839 in funding for the proposed Tanforan Assembly Center Memorial project. The NPS awarded a total of $2.8 million in grants to 15 projects that will preserve and interpret World War II Japanese-American confinement sites, better known as internment camps, around the nation.

“I am thrilled that the National Parks Service has determined that the Tanforan Assembly Center Memorial should move forward,” Speier said. “Wartime hysteria and a failure of political leadership led to 7,800 Bay Area residents being uprooted from their homes and rounded up at Tanforan before being shipped to one of the nation’s internment camps. As the wartime images show, they often arrived at Tanforan dressed in their best clothes because these were proud Americans who deeply loved our country. They would not be stripped of their dignity because of hatred.

“The internment camps were located in remote regions inaccessible to most Americans even today. The power of the Tanforan Memorial site is that it is located in the heart of the Peninsula, where commuters and visitors will have an opportunity to learn about and reflect upon this shameful chapter in our nation’s history. I want to congratulate Doug Yamamoto, Steve Okamoto, Paul Kitagaki Jr. and the entire Japanese-American community for their tireless work and dedication to ensure we never again allow individual liberty to become a casualty of wartime prejudice.”

The memorial is estimated to cost approximately $1 million. In addition to the NPS grant, San Mateo County has committed to contributing $250,000 to the project. The memorial will be located adjacent to the Tanforan BART station in San Bruno, the site of the original assembly center. At the time, the site hosted the Tanforan race track, where Japanese-Americans were housed in horse stalls and tents as they awaited their internment camp assignments. Due to its proximity to the BART station today, the Tanforan Memorial site is expected to be seen by thousands of daily commuters.

The Tanforan site is linked to the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, which is expected to offer interpretive assistance to the committee that will be responsible for erecting the Tanforan site. BART currently has a photo exhibit within the station, documenting the conditions at the Tanforan Assembly Center.