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Presidio History: Two Exhibitions Explore the History of World War II Japanese American Incarceration

Friday, Jan 18, 2019 Category History; Entertainment and Culture

January 30 is Fred Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the Constitution – honoring civil rights activist Fred T. Korematsu who in 1942 refused to go to the U.S. government’s World War II-era incarceration camps for Japanese Americans.

As a US Army post, the Presidio played a critical role in Japanese American incarceration. Two exhibitions in the Presidio shed light on these events and invite us to think about the lessons learned that are relevant today.

1. EXCLUSION: The Presidio’s Role in Japanese American Incarceration

Visitors at Exclusion Exhibition

Photographs, quotes, and more describe how Lieutenant General John L. DeWitt issued Civilian Exclusion Orders from the Presidio when it was an Army post. This exhibition was recently honored by the Western Museums Association for “its important examination of a complex issue as it impacts the Western United States - and beyond.”

Open Saturdays, 11 am to 4 pm. Free.

Learn more about the EXCLUSION Exhibition >>

2. Military Intelligence Service Historic Learning Center

Exhibition at Military Intelligence Service Historic Learning Center display

In 1941, the U.S. Army recruited 58 Japanese American soldiers and secretly trained them as military linguists and stationed them in a dilapidated former aircraft hangar at Crissy Field in the Presidio. This school would graduate only one class and go on to become the forerunner to the Defense Language Institute at the Presidio of Monterey.

Today, the National Japanese American Historic Society shares this history with visitors by way of the Military Intelligence Service (MIS) Historic Learning Center, housed in the same historic building where you can learn about MIS history through videos and interactive exhibits. These exhibits also explore the personal stories of the families of the soldiers affected by Japanese American incarceration during World War II.

Open Saturday and Sunday, 12 to 5 pm. General Admission is $10. Veterans and children under 12 are free. Very limited parking is nearby; consider arriving via Muni 30, which stops nearby at Sports Basement along Crissy Field.

Learn about the Historic Learning Center >>