The bill, which has strong bipartisan support, now heads to the Senate in its quest to make Amache part of the National Park System.
The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill to make Amache, a Japanese American incarceration camp in Colorado during World War II a National Historic Site by the count of 416-2 on July 29.
The Amache National Historic Site Act, a bipartisan effort to preserve the legacy of the incarceration camp, was first introduced in April by Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Colo.) and Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.). It now heads to the Senate.
In a statement, Neguse said he was “extremely” excited that the bill passed, describing its success as “an important step in terms of ultimately ensuring that this important story that is told by the Amache internment camp is preserved for future generations.
“I’ve always believed that the landscapes, the cultural places, the stories we choose to protect, really reflect our values as a country and in that vein the story of Amache is such an important one,” Neguse said.
Concurred Buck, who represents the area where Amache is located, in a statement: “Our nation is better today because of the lessons we have learned from our past. The Amache National Historic Site Act is important because it recognizes the horrible injustices committed against Japanese Americans and preserves the site for people throughout Colorado and the United States.”
Amache, or the Granada Relocation Center, was one of 10 prison camps where 120,000 people of Japanese descent were incarcerated following the signing of Executive Order 9066 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt following the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
At least 7,000 people were imprisoned in Amache, and more then 10,000 spent time there during the duration of World War II. Amache also had the most Japanese Americans to voluntarily enlist in the U.S. military.
The Amache bill is drawing upon strong bipartisan support.
In the statement released by Neguse’s office, “in urging members to vote for the bill, Republican Rep. Bruce Westerman of Arkansas, ranking member of the committee, described the ‘powerful’ testimony from Amache survivor Bob Fuchigami as part of his decision to support the bill.”
Westerman continued, “Sites like Amache help to remind us of the challenges our nation has faced and the mistakes we have made as we have endeavored to form a more perfect union. I urge my colleagues to support this bill so that, in Mr. Fuchigami’s own words, ‘We can help shine a light on this forgotten history.’”
Tracy Coppola, Colorado program manager for the National Parks Conservation Assn., said in a statement: “As America’s storyteller, what the National Park Service chooses to preserve and the stories it chooses to tell reflects our values as a nation, and Amache challenges us all to act toward a better future where justice, equity, diversity and inclusion are America’s top priority. We urge Congress to keep the momentum going and look forward to swiftly getting this bill through the Senate and to President Biden’s desk.”
The Amache Act now heads to the Senate, where Neguse and Buck are hopeful the bill will also be passed swiftly.