A Program About Topaz was Held at the Utah State Capitol

S. F. Mori

The Topaz Camp was an American concentration camp

Utah State Capitol(Image is author's)

There were ten camps built in the United States during World War II to imprison persons of Japanese heritage. Those facilities have now become known as American concentration camps. They were called internment camps or relocation centers during those war years. Those incarcerated at the camps were innocent of any wrongdoing and were held simply because of their ethnicity.

The incarceration was due to President Franklin D. Roosevelt signing Executive Order 9066 on February 19, 1942. It allowed military commanders to remove people from certain areas. It was only used against people of Japanese descent and was later determined by a Commission to have been due to racism, war hysteria, and a lack of competent government leadership.

One of the camps was located in Utah near the town of Delta. The people who lived at the Topaz Camp were mainly from the San Francisco Bay area. The majority were American citizens who had been born in the United States.

Topaz Museum in Delta, Utah(Image is author's)
An exhibit is now located at the Utah State Capitol which tells the stories of some of those who had been incarcerated at Topaz. There are photos and stories displayed at the Capitol. The exhibit will be available to view for the rest of the year. The stories may be accessed and read online at www.topazstories.com.

Although the exhibit has been up since January, a program was held on April 22, 2022, to officially open the exhibit and let people know about the stories. Members of the community and the public were invited to attend. Some of the people who had been incarcerated at Topaz and descendants came from California to attend the event. Among them were Jonathan Hirabayashi, who designed the exhibit, and people who had worked on gathering the stories along with some who had been incarcerated at Topaz during World War II.

The program was held at the Capitol Rotunda(Image is author's)

Max Chang was the emcee for the event. Mike Mower and an associate represented Governor Spencer Cox and presented a Proclamation. Brad Westwood with the Utah Department of Culture and Community Engagement was present. Jani Iwamoto, Utah State Senator, and Sherrie Hayashi, a Topaz Museum Board Member, spoke. Utah Senate President Stuart Adams spoke also. Salt Lake City Council Member Darin Mano, who was the architect for the new Topaz Museum, was present as were other dignitaries.

Some of the group made a trip to Topaz and Delta the next day to visit the site and the Topaz Museum.

Marker at the Topaz site(Image is author's)

Utah residents and others are encouraged to visit the Utah State Capitol to view the Topaz Stories Exhibit and to visit the Topaz Museum along with the site of the Topaz Camp. The museum is located at 55 West Main Street in Delta.

Japanese Americans want to share their history so that the general public can learn. They do not want anyone else to have to experience what their community suffered during World War II. The Topaz Stories Exhibit is one way to learn about that period in American history.

[Reference: The Japanese American Story as Told Through a Collection of Speeches and Articles, www.thejapaneseamericanstories.com; www.topazstories.com; www.topazmuseum.org]

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I am a retired President/CEO of civil rights organizations. I have been a Mayor and California State Assemblyman as well as a College Instructor of Economics. I have also been an entrepreneur and international business consultant. I will be sharing articles mostly about life, politics, racism, travel, health, and relationships.

Salt Lake City, UT

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