Amache internment camp preservation bill passes in U.S. House

The U.S. House of Representatives voted Thursday to turn Amache, the former Japanese American internment camp in southeast Colorado, into a national historic site.

The House passed the bill by a vote of 416-2, sending it on to the U.S. Senate.

“Our nation is better today because of the lessons we have learned from our past,” said U.S. Rep. Ken Buck, a Windsor Republican who represents eastern Colorado. “The Amache National Historic Site Act is important because it recognizes the horrible injustices committed against Japanese Americans and preserves the site for people throughout Colorado and the United States.”

Buck co-sponsored the bill with Rep. Joe Neguse, a Lafayette Democrat. Neguse said the historic site designation “will help us to honor and preserve the stories of many survivors who lived through this dark moment in our nation’s history, and provide education and healing for future generations.”

Between 1942 and 1945, the federal government removed 120,000 Japanese Americans and Japanese nationals from their homes on the West Coast and imprisoned 10,000 of them at the Granada Relocation Center in Colorado, which the inmates called Amache. It was one of 10 sites across the country.

One hundred and 21 inmates died at Amache. Another 953 volunteered for the U.S. Army to escape the camp, 31 of whom died fighting in Europe.

Bob Fuchigami, an Evergreen man who survived Amache, said in a statement that Thursday’s vote brings him hope: “I now urge the Senate to pass this bill. The time is not only right; it is long overdue.”

Mike Honda, an Amache survivor and a former Democratic member of Congress from California, said that “Neguse and Buck demonstrated what cooperation looks like” in Congress this week.

“Let’s hope the Senate collaborates in the same manner and sends the bill to the White House,” Honda added. “This then will be the expression and realization of the people’s will.”

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