2014 Heart Mountain Pilgrimage to Honor Veterans

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Photo by Kevin J. Miyazak

Heart Mountain World War II Japanese American Confinement Site in Wyoming. Photo courtesy of Kevin J. Miyazak

The Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation announces its Annual Pilgrimage, with the focus of honoring the service of veterans to the country. With the theme of “Honoring Selfless Service” this year’s events will recognize soldiers who were incarcerated at Heart Mountain during World War II. The events will take place at the Heart Mountain World War II Japanese American Confinement Site in Northwest Wyoming on August 22–23, 2014.

Headlining the event will be the dedication of the Heart Mountain Honor Roll Memorial to the late Sen. Daniel K. Inouye. The Honor Roll was built at Heart Mountain by internees in 1944, and the site has been preserved by the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation in recent years. Sen. Inouye was a great American patriot who served the country both as a highly decorated veteran of World War II and as a government official. A Medal of Honor recipient, Inouye lost an arm in battle and went on to become the first Japanese American to serve in Congress, where he rose to the rank of President pro tempore of the U.S. Senate.

Other events at the site include guest speakers, including Sen. Inouye’s widow, Irene Hirano, Senator Al Simpson (ret.) and Secretary Norman Mineta (ret.). There will also be a special film screening of  “a Flicker in Eternity” with the filmmaker. This film tells the touching story of Stanley Hayami, who was incarcerated at Heart Mountain as a teenager and gave his life in service as a member of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team during World War II. His story is told through the diary and letters he kept during his incarceration and service. In addition, a dinner banquet with distinguished speakers will be held on Friday, August 22, at the Holiday Inn in Cody, Wyo.

“As our most important event, the Annual Pilgrimage serves our mission by educating the public about the history of Japanese American confinement and engaging visitors in a discussion about racial prejudice and civil rights, as well as hopefully providing an opportunity for healing for former internees and their families,” said Brian Liesinger, Executive Director of the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation.

In preparation for the event, the HMWF has begun a campaign to identify and invite as many living Heart Mountain veterans in an effort to honor them at the Pilgrimage. Fundraising is underway to provide travel stipends to bring those veterans to the event. The HMWF is asking any Heart Mountain veterans or anyone still in contact with Heart Mountain veterans to contact them at info@heartmountain.org or by phone at 307.754.8000. In addition, the HMWF is seeking individuals and organizations to help sponsor these veterans. Interested sponsors can also contact the foundation via the information above.

“The reason we continue to use the moniker ‘The Greatest Generation’ is because it still rings true, and the veterans of World War II continue to inspire future generations with their selfless service,” Liesinger said. “We feel we must bring back and honor those whose lives were intertwined not only with war but also with incarceration at Heart Mountain.”

Registration for both days of events is open at heartmountain.org/pilgrimage.html. Registration can also be done over the phone at 307-754-8000. Registration includes both days’ events, as well as the dinner banquet on Friday and lunch on Saturday at the Heart Mountain site.

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