After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, ten permanent camps were built in desolate areas away from the west coast for the purpose of incarcerating Japanese Americans, two-thirds of whom were native born Americans.
While these camps were being built, Japanese Americans were sent to temporary assembly centers. One, the Pinedale Assembly Center, was located in Fresno County, California, on the former site of the Sugar Pine Lumber Company.
The Pinedale Assembly Center detained 4,832 Japanese Americans from Sacramento and Amador Counties in California and the states of Oregon and Washington from May to July, 1942. The internees were sent to several permanent camps, including Tule Lake and Poston War Relocation Centers.
In 2005, it was brought to the attention of the Fresno Japanese American community that a developer had applied for a demolition permit for a large warehouse building in Pinedale in the vicinity of the former Pinedale Assembly Center. The developer desired to develop a 32-acre site into a commercial office complex. The building was the last remaining building of the 500+ acre site of the Sugar Pine Lumber Company. The site was acquired by the U.S. Government during World War II and used for the Pinedale Assembly Center and Camp Pinedale, an Army-Air Force Base for training soldiers and storing supplies.
The Central California District Council of the Japanese American Citizens League and the Central California Nikkei Foundation formed the Pinedale Assembly Center Memorial Project Committee under the able leadership of Judge Dale Ikeda to establish a monument for the Pinedale Assembly Center at the site. The members of the Fresno City Council unanimously voted to support the creation of the memorial to mitigate the effects of demolishing the warehouse. The U.S. House of Representatives also passed House Resolution Number 109 and 122, recognizing the 65th anniversary of Executive Order 9066 and the historical significance of the Pinedale Assembly Center and the creation of an appropriate memorial on the site.
The memorial was completed with contributions from the developer, grant funds from the California Civil Liberties Public Education Program and contributions from the community. The memorial was dedicated on February 16, 2009, as part of a national Day of Remembrance and JACL Tri-District Conference. California Registered Historical Landmark Number 934 is located on the site.
The memorial includes ten storyboards that tell the history of the Japanese Americans since the Japanese immigrated to this country, the internment, the Nisei Soldiers Record, Redress, and the success stories of the Japanese Americans. The centerpiece of the memorial is a water fountain, The Fountain of Remembrance, designed by Gerard Tsutakawa, a noted sculptor from Seattle, Washington.
The Pinedale Assembly Center Memorial is located in the front of the office building at 625 W. Alluvial Avenue, Fresno. For additional information, visit www.pinedalememorial.org.
The Pinedale Assembly Center Memorial is located in the front of the office building at 625 W. Alluvial Avenue, Fresno, California.