Sunday, August 14, 2011

Heart Mountain Interpretive Learning Center opens Aug. 20

The Heart Mountain Interpretive Learning Center opens the weekend of Aug. 19-21 at the Park County site of the former World War II Internment Camp. I was at the site most recently in June 2010. The center's building was finished but the interior was still bare. While built of modern materials, the structure duplicates the look of the tar-paper barracks than once housed more than 10,000 Japanese-Americans, most of them U.S. citizens. Reporter Don Amend wrote about his tour of the almost-complete center in the Aug. 9 Powell Tribune.

The center will open officially with a dedication ceremony at 10 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 20, and the foundation is preparing for nearly 1,000 former internees, their families, friends and supporters of the center.

Longtime U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), a decorated World War II, veteran, will present the keynote address. Inouye will be introduced by former U.S. Sen. Alan Simpson and former Congressman Norman Mineta, who became lifelong friends as Boy Scouts while Mineta’s family was interned at the camp.

Others who will participate in the grand opening are Tom Brokaw, former news anchor and current special correspondent for NBC; Los Angeles County Superior Judge Judge Lance Ito; Irene Hirano Inouye, president of the US-Japan Council; and Dr. Melba Vasquez, president of the American Psychological Association.

Brokaw, whose book “The Greatest Generation” describes the experiences of those who fought World War II, will speak at a Pilgrimage Dinner at 6 p.m. Friday, Aug. 19.

Mineta, Ito, Hirano Inouye and Vasquez will participate in a panel discussion on various perspectives of the Japanese-American experience and its lessons for civil rights issues today during a grand opening banquet at 6 p.m. Saturday.

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