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Nidoto Nai Yoni

Let it not happen again

A close-up view of the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial. Photo credit: Marguerite Cleveland

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A shameful moment in U.S. history comes to life on Bainbridge Island. The Eagledale Ferry Dock marks the spot where the first Japanese Americans were forcibly removed from their homes during World War II and incarcerated in concentration camps. Two locations on the island highlight this history, and once you are finished with the experience you will have a much greater understanding of this event.  It will no longer be just grainy photos and a mention in a high school history book - you will leave feeling empathy for the Japanese Americans who endured this tragedy.

Bainbridge Island Historical Museum: The featured exhibits cover the history of the island from the early days, the logging years and WWII.

A highlight of the museum is the "Ansel Adams - Portrait of Manzanar" exhibit. On March 30, 1942, 227 men, women and children of Japanese descent were escorted off the island by armed military men to the ferry.  They eventually went to an internment camp in the desert of Manzanar, California.

Famed photographer Ansel Adams photographed and documented life at the camp in the summer of 1943. When few would stand up for the Japanese families, Adams took a stand and published the book Born Free and Equal, which featured many portraits of the Japanese interned in the camp. His haunting photos are on display at the museum and in the movie Manzanar Camp. Insider tip: The museum is a Blue Star Museum and offers free admission for DoD ID card holders and their families.

Bainbridge Island Historical Museum, open daily, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., 215 Ericksen Ave. NE, Bainbridge Island, 206.842.2773

Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial: This beautiful memorial brings together history, art, nature and the community to tell the story of the people of Japanese descent who departed the island from the Eagledale Ferry Dock landing site March 30, 1942.  Given only six days notice, they left behind almost everything they owned and spent the war years in the harsh desert of California.

Begin by walking through the grounds on a boardwalk surrounded by natural landscaping and native plants such as sword ferns, mahonia, salal, and shore pine. As you weave down the sloping incline, the outdoor cedar "story wall" begins to come into view.  The memorial wall curves down to the Eagledale Ferry Dock landing site. It lists the names of all the Japanese Americans that lived on the island at the time. Local architect Johnpaul Jones designed the wall. Steve Gardner, a local artist, created terra cotta friezes, which show scenes beginning with the departure and ending with the return of some of the families to the island after the war. The Japanese words Nidoto Nai Yoni (let it not happen again) are prominently displayed on the wall.

Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial, always open, Pritchard Park, 4192 Eagle Harbor Dr., Bainbridge Island, for guided tours call 206.842.2226,

Bainbridge Island is a short 90-minute drive from Joint Base Lewis-McChord and makes for an easy day trip.

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