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Local San Bruno Official Spearheading Effort to Build Tanforan Memorial

By October 6, 2015No Comments

By P.C. Staff

Foster City Councilman Steve Okamoto is spearheading an effort to build a memorial to recognize the trials and tribulations of those who were held captive in a Japanese internment camp at the Tanforan race track in San Bruno, Calif., during World War II.

Nearly 8,000 people of Japanese descent were forced to live at the Tanforan race track, most of whom made their home in a horse stable or barrack built along the race track’s infield during the war.

If approved, the memorial would consist of a sculpture inspired by a famous picture of two young girls who lived at the camp that was taken by famed photographer Dorothea Lange. It would be placed in a plaza located in San Bruno’s Bay Area Rapid Transit station and the Shops at Tanforan.

Okamoto, who lived in the Tanforan race track along with his parents and siblings in 1942, is set to host an event on Oct. 31 to kick off the memorial’s fundraising campaign.

Notable local officials including Sen. Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo) and U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier (D-San Mateo) are scheduled to attend the event.

RHAA Architecture is slated to build the memorial, which will also include a reconstruction of a horse stable door that will be inscribed with the nearly 8,000 names of those who once lived at the camp.

A smaller plaque is currently located outside the Shops at Tanforan to recognize the internment camp and its history there, but Okamoto is hoping that the larger memorial will finally give Tanforan the long-overdue recognition it deserves.

The goal is to build the memorial quickly, as many of the relocation camp’s occupants are elderly.

Of additional importance is its educational value to inform current and future generations of its importance.