Just inside the entrance to the Central Library in downtown San Diego stands a life-size model barrack. It accurately replicates barracks that were used to incarcerate Japanese-Americans during World War II.
The model barrack was built by Frank Wada, who was sent to the Poston “Relocation Center” in Arizona, before being released to fight in the war. He was ultimately awarded a Bronze Star and Purple Heart.
In 1942 ten prison camps were built in the United States to incarcerate those with Japanese ancestry. About 120,000 people were imprisoned in these camps. The model barrack shows what life was like for those who were forced to live away from their homes, with little comfort or privacy.
An exhibit in the Central Library’s 9th floor Art Gallery, titled Call to Serve: Clara E. Breed and the Japanese American Incarceration, is on view through January 30, 2022. It documents how San Diego city librarian Clara Estelle Breed was an active opponent of Executive Order 9066, the internment policy instituted by President Franklin Roosevelt in February 1942.
On Saturday afternoon I rode the elevator up to the library’s rooftop to see the exhibition, but for some reason the Art Gallery was closed. I’ll try again in the future!