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Grand opening set for Heart Mountain center

Grand opening set for Heart Mountain center

Friday, July 29, 2011

Grand opening set for Heart Mountain center
By Wyoming Business Report Staff

HEART MOUNTAIN — The grand opening of the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation's long-awaited Interpretive Learning Center on Saturday, Aug. 20, will offer visitors a special opportunity to tour the new museum, located at the former World War II concentration camp in Park County. Nearly 14,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry were imprisoned at the camp from 1942-45.

According to Shirley Ann Higuchi, chair of the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation, some 1,000 former internees, descendents and supporters across the nation are planning a pilgrimage to the site to honor Heart Mountain survivors and commemorate the opening of this lasting tribute to their experiences.

The theme for the three-day celebration, Aug. 19-21, is "Lessons from the Past ... Guidance for the Future." The weekend also will include the world premiere of the film, "All We Could Carry: The Story of the Heart Mountain Relocation Center," by Academy Award-winning filmmaker Steven Okazaki.

"The grand opening of the Interpretive Learning Center is the result of an enormous effort to preserve this historic site and interpret what occurred there for the current and future generations of Americans," said Higuchi, a third-generation Japanese-American whose parents were incarcerated as children at the Heart Mountain Relocation Center.

Award-winning broadcast journalist and author Tom Brokaw will be the special guest speaker for the pilgrimage dinner on Friday, Aug. 19, at the Park County Fairgrounds in Powell. Currently a special correspondent for NBC News, Brokaw's best-selling book, "The Greatest Generation," includes the story of the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II.

The Saturday dedication ceremony will begin at 10 a.m., adjacent to the Interpretive Learning Center, and will feature a keynote address from Sen. Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, a World War II hero who worked to pass the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, granting a formal apology and token redress payments to surviving Japanese Americans incarcerated during the war.

Joining Sen. Inouye at the ceremony will be two statesmen who famously met at Heart Mountain as Boy Scouts when one was incarcerated there with his family and the other belonged to a troop in his nearby hometown of Cody.

Former Sen. Alan Simpson and former Congressman and Secretary of Transportation and Secretary of Commerce Norman Mineta became lifelong friends and longtime colleagues, and both serve as honorary advisers to the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation.

Wyoming Business Report