(CBS4) - Four Colorado congressmen introduced legislation this month to add a former Japanese internment camp to the National Park System. The Amache National Historic Site is located about a mile outside Granada and housed nearly 10,000 Japanese-American internees at its height during World War II.
On Friday, Sens. Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper and Reps. Joe Neguse and Ken Buck held a virtual community roundtable to discuss the Amache National Historic Site Act. Bennet and Hickenlooper introduced the legislation this week in the senate. Neguse and Buck introduced a companion bill in the U.S. House on April 14.
"The incarceration of Japanese Americans is a shameful part of America's history and Amache is a prominent site in that dark past," said Bennet. "Adding Amache to the National Park System will preserve its story, so future generations learn from our mistakes."
"The Amache National Historic Site will honor those who suffered and help ensure history doesn't repeat itself," Hickenlooper added.
Tracy Coppola with the National Parks Conservation Association moderated the discussion. Special guests included Amache descendants Mitch Homma and Derek Okubo.
"Three generations of my family from California were detained at the Granada Relocation Center known as Amache, but this is more than a West Coast Story," said Homma,. "This is an opportunity -- long overdue and relevant today -- to share a time in history that has been largely forgotten and educate a wider audience. The time is right for Amache to become part of the NPS family. I thank the Members of Congress who've responded to our Call to Action to pass this legislation."
Amache was one of ten internment facilities for Japanese Americans during World War II. Officials say two-thirds of internees at Amache were American citizens, many of whom had never been to Japan.
The site is maintained by the Amache Preservation Society. The location includes a cemetery, watch towers, military police compound and trees planted by internees, according to the National Park Service. For more information, visit amache.org.
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