California Studies Association

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Community Campfire: Unmatched Courage Japanese American Experience in the Presidio during WW II Saturday, May 16, 2009 5pm – 7pm

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The National Park Service, Crissy Field Center, and the National Japanese American Historical Society will hold a “community campfire” at the Presidio on May 16, from five to seven p.m., to commemorate the courage of Japanese-Americans who were interned during World War II.  From the Golden Gate Park calendar:

Join the National Park Service, Crissy Field Center, and the National Japanese American Historical Society as they share the “untold” story of the U.S. Army’s Military Intelligence Service language school based in the Presidio. As linguists, these Japanese American (Nisei) soldiers were attached to every combat unit in the Pacific and ultimately helped Allied forces win the war. They translated documents, gathered key intelligence, and served as “goodwill” ambassadors once the war was over, helping Japan transition from occupation to democracy. Meanwhile, the families of these MIS soldiers—together with 120,000 Japanese Americans living on the West Coast, 62% of whom were American citizens—were sent to detention camps.

Hear stories about the many contributions and sacrifices made by both the Nisei soldiers and those interned during WW II as you gather around the outdoor campfire. Listen to traditional Japanese folk music of Ensohza whose lively vocals, bamboo flutes, and taiko drums evoke the spirit of rural Japan. Watch the sunset while munching on “hurricane pop” and rice cracker ‘smores in your beautiful national park next door. Don’t forget your picnic dinner, we’ll supply the marshmallows!

This event is the first in a series of four Community Campfires hosted by the National Park Service and Crissy Field Center, designed to introduce the Golden Gate National Parks to groups that have not historically visited. Additionally, the Community Campfire series is part of the “Untold Stories” project which filmmaker Ken Burns features in his latest PBS documentary “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea”.

For more information about the proposed establishment of the Military Intelligence Service (MIS) Historic Learning Center at Building 640 visit

The event will be located at Building 640 Mason Street (site of the former MIS Language School) in the Presidio, across Crissy Field.

For more information contact


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