The 39th Annual Manzanar Pilgrim­age was one of the most successful trips in its history, according to organizers, as upwards of 300 participants made the journey to the former Japanese Ameri­can internment campsite Saturday.
It was a day best defined by its diversity, as pilgrims of varying ages, ethnicities and backgrounds visited the Manzanar National Historic Site, many of whom were participating for the first time. Former internees were joined by their children and grandchildren, curi­ous high school students arrived in their friends’ cars and buses teemed with various secular, academic and religious groups, making this year’s pilgrimage one of its most diverse.
“I think we’re all here for a good reason,” said Hussam Ayloush, execu­tive director of the Southern California branch of the Council on American Islamic Relations, speaking on behalf of the gathered crowd, which included over 100 Muslim Americans. “To pay tribute to the courage and the sacrifices of the Japanese American community. In the Forties, they had to pay a price to ensure that the Civil Liberties of all Americans were protected. We owe them so much, we owe them a great debt and we’re all here to pay that tribute to them.”
The Muslim-American contingent, which has been growing steadily within the last few years, was the largest in the pilgrimage’s history. Their community has joined the pilgrimage in solidarity after the Japanese American community reached out to them following the Sept. 11 attacks. (MORE)