COLORADO SPRINGS — This week, the senate passed a bill to add the Amache Internment Site to the National Park System.
Colorado Senator Michael Bennet introduced the bill in April 2021 after visiting the site in Granada, Colorado several years ago. He said that as the survivors of the Amache Camp become fewer and fewer in number each year, this bill will help keep the memory alive for the next generation.
The legislation will establish the Amache National historic site, which is a former Japanese American incarceration facility, as part of the National Park System. The site is less than one square mile..
The bill's passing comes ahead of the 80th anniversary of an executive order forcing the internment of 120,000 Japanese Americans during World War II. Two thirds of them were american citizens forced out of their homes and into camps by the U.S. Government. The Amache National Historic site also detained nearly 10,000 Japanese Americans against their will.
On the floor when lawmakers were discussing the bill, Senator Bennet shared words written by survivors of the Amache.
"Our families suffered loss of jobs, homes, property and businesses, and many of us lost family members. Many of our parents went to their graves without even an apology from their country. Our nation still has a long way to go to learn from this mistake. And our community, both old and young, continues to suffer from anti-Asian hate crimes increasing to this day. Our National Parks and the stories they honor reflect our values as a nation. Adding Amache to the National Park System would allow us to protect a unique story that has largely been forgotten and can only be told through the power of place," said Senator Bennet.
He also said making Amache part of the National Park System would make sure it has resources and recognition it deserves for years to come. He talked about a group of high school students and their teacher, who work every year to restore the site so Coloradans can learn about what happened there.
"And If it were up to me, Madam President, every student in Colorado and throughout the American West would go there –– throughout our entire country –– and learn about the Americans of Amache. The men and women who held on to hope year after year, who supported one another, who forged a community behind the barbed wires of the site, who never gave up on the United States of America, even as it was interning them on their own soil." said Senator Bennet.
Last year, survivors of the Amache also sent a letter to the senate urging lawmakers to pass this legislation. More than 70 organizations in Colorado and across the country shared their support.
The bill now heads to the U.S. House of Representatives for consideration.