The Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial is a reminder never to forget. The silhouette of a Japanese American preparing to travel to an unknown fate is a haunting reminder of the island’s place in WWII history.
Japanese emigrants had been settling on Bainbridge Island since the late 1800s, joining the other citizens in logging and, later, when the logging had stripped the island of its timber, strawberry farming.
Then, after the Pearl Harbor bombing, President Franklin Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066 and Civilian Exclusion Order No. 1, and the first people excluded from the West Coast were the Bainbridge Island Japanese Americans. The Bainbridge Island Japanese Americans were all forcibly relocated to camps in Manzanar, California, and Minidoka, Idaho.
The memorial wall curves gently to follow the natural curve of the land in its outdoor setting. All the names of the 276 Japanese-American residents of Bainbridge Island during this time are listed on the wall, with colorful paper cranes placed throughout. The wall flows like a river to a pier, built in the exact place where the Bainbridge Island Japanese Americans would have been forced to walk, carrying their children and a few belongings.
We walk to the edge of the dock where a ferry would have been to take the Japanese Americans from their home. We stand where they would have stood and look down to see the symbolic metal footprints, think of those who were excluded, and remember. The Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial stands as a reminder to never forget. The silhouette of a Japanese American preparing to travel to an unknown fate is a haunting reminder of the island’s place in WWII history.