Sierra College faculty and students have joined forces with Placer County community members in a yearlong art and education project called Standing Guard. Initiated in the fall of 2000 by Sierra College Photography Professor Rebecca Gregg and a twelve-member steering committee comprised of community members and Sierra College staff, Standing Guard is a campus-wide, multidisciplinary project designed to create a legacy of education about the impact of World War II internment on the Japanese American community in and around Placer County, California.
Because Sierra College (called Placer College in 1942) and the community it has served were so strongly affected by the removal and internment, Standing Guard will retain a local context throughout the duration of the project. Additionally, "Standing Guard" will ingrain within the community served by Sierra College the value of remembering and understanding those events in our nation's past that compromised our nation's integrity and, consequently, taught us invaluable lessons about honoring the rich diversity of the American experience.
The essence of Standing Guard is not, in fact, simply to remember the forced internment of Japanese American citizens. The essence of Standing Guard is education and awareness to uphold the rights of all citizens under the Constitution of the United States. The essence of Standing Guard is vigilance and readiness anchored in understanding and courage rather than fear. It is reassuring to hear Attorney General John Ashcroft call for a calm and reasonable response to America's Islamic population. Freedom of religion is fundamental to our American way of life.
February 2002 was the 60th anniversary of the signing of Executive Order 9066 that authorized the internment of Americans with Japanese ancestry. It was signed just six weeks after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, driven by fear and racism, and justified at the time as military necessity. Due process for American citizens under the Constitution of the United States was abandoned though thoughtful voices decried the Order. In Placer County almost 2,000 Japanese Americans were relocated and confined in the camp at Tule Lake, a site which eventually grew to nearly 20,000 people from the Pacific states.
If you would like more information or if you have an interest in helping in any phase of the project, please contact:Rebecca Gregg (916) 660-8071 or firstname.lastname@example.org,
Note on the Kanji: The Japanese kanji, mihari, was written by Shinobu Matsuda of Newcastle. The grace and power of the symbols indicate watchfulness, as a soldier alert with bow drawn.