Today for Fall Break we headed out for a delightful day trip to Utah's west desert. First stop was the city of Delta.
Recently opened on Main Street is the Topaz Museum. It is a local, private endeavor to portray the story of the Topaz internment camp for Japanese Americans during WWII. It is a sobering museum that is well worth a visit. The woman behind the museum taught at Delta High School years ago. When the Intermountain Power Plant north of Delta came on line, many new families moved to the area. Old timers and new-comers had a hard time integrating at Delta High. This teacher wanted a project to bring them together. She sent her students out to research the Topaz camp by interviewing locals in Delta who were around during WWII. From those initial interviews emerged a commitment by many in Delta to preserve and tell the story of this unique portion of US history.
8,000 Japanese Americans ended living in the hot-by-summer, cold-by-winter desert of Utah in the barrack city of Topaz which for a few years was the fifth largest city in Utah.
To keep busy some of the camp residents gathered shells from the bed of ancient Lake Bonneville that they assembled and painted (sometimes with nail polish) into floral and animal decorations.
One of the biggest challenges for those in the camps was deciding if and how they should show their allegiance to the Untied States. Many young men chose to enlist. Others protested their unjust internment by refusing to serve. George Takei's recent Broadway musical Allegiance depicts the camps and the question of loyalty to country. http://allegiancemusical.com/#guwE9ecOPy99kkfq.97
Adding to the complexity was the fact that young men from Delta were fighting, dying and being imprisoned by Japan. One of these soldiers stated: "Every freedom I had been fighting for had been violated in my own backyard."
In a world where "the other" among us are still viewed with suspicion and treated unfairly, the story of Topaz is a good reminder that we can still do better.
The name sounded interesting so we drove off road for a mile to this pile of basalt.
See three previous posts about visits to this area to gather basalt:
On the drive home north along I-15 we were treated with rainbows and a gorgeous sunset. Back to work for the mom and dad tomorrow.