2019 Heart Mountain Pilgrimage

Heart Mountain Interpretive Center, Powell, WY

Last summer, I talked mom into attending the Heart Mountain Pilgrimage. Heart Mountain is one of the two “camps” in which she and her family were imprisoned behind barbed wire and guard towers during World War II.

Since her incarceration there as a little girl, she had visited the site only once in the late sixties. At that time, there was no trace of the “camp” where 14,000 people were unconstitutionally incarcerated. At the time, it was the third largest city in the state of Wyoming.

Newly reconstructed barrack at the Heart Mountain Interpretive Center, Powell, Wyoming

Now there is an annual pilgrimage, an excellent interpretive center and museum, and a newly reconstructed barrack.

Mom, now 87 years old, didn’t expect to see many survivors of the camp. She was only a 4th to 6th grader during the incarceration, so the vast majority of those who experienced this dark chapter have passed away. We were happily surprised to learn over 50 survivors made the 2019 pilgrimage, many of whom we met.

Mom and her brother, Itsuo “Dick” standing at the Vocation train depot on the day of their release from Heart Mountain
Mom standing at the approximate location of the Vocation train depot, 74 years later

We met several well-known figures at the pilgrimage.

They included former Secretary Norman Mineta, retired Senator Alan Simpson, retired Judge Lance Ito, “Death, Sex & Money” podcast host, Anna Sale, and veteran journalist and news anchor Tom Brokaw and his wife, Meredeth.

By chance, mom was interviewed by both Brokaw

and Sale. Brokaw included clips of mom’s interview in a 4-minute piece that was broadcast on “Morning Joe.” 

Just today, Anna Sale posted her podcast episode titled “The Children of Heart Mountain.” A short clip of mom is featured at the very very end.

I encourage anyone who can to visit the Heart Mountain Interpretive Center. It is just 15 minutes outside of Cody, Wyoming. This is a vital and instructive period of history that must not be forgotten.

If you want to learn more about this history, including recordings of talks mom has given, please see my February 19, Day of Remembrance post.

If you would like to see my mom talk on this subject, she has two events in the new year at the end of January and February.


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