Bainbridge Island Japanese American Memorial — Progress and the Future Steps

Memorial The first of four construction phases, the framework for the memorial, was completed in 2006, with the installation of driveways, parking lots and ponds; boardwalks, bridges and paths that meander through forests and over wetlands; and stunning hand–crafted gates and pavilion built by the Timber Framers Guild. The generosity of many people has made this possible, including donations of work and materials along with monetary contributions from all levels of government and grant money

Phase Two was completed in August 2011. Drury Construction Company completed the 276 foot long story wall, made of cedar and stone, and gravel walkway in 2010. The firms of EDX and Turner designed all interpretive materials to go onto the wall as well as several informational signs that will be displayed throughout the site. Local Seattle artist, Steve Gardner was commissioned to create five terracotta friezes that depict the Bainbridge Island story of exclusion, imprisonment, and return. Finally, the showcase of the wall, the names of the 276 Bainbridge Island residents of Japanese descent who were exiled from their homes in World War II have been placed on the wall in family groupings on terracotta tiles.

Entrance to the story-wall and walkway Phase three is a 150–foot–long pier that will extend out over the water at the end of the walkway. The fourth phase, now under design by Jones and Jones Architects of Seattle, is a 4000–square–foot interpretive center and meeting room. BIJAEM is currently seeking funding for these final two phases.

On a site of undeniable historical significance, the completion of the memorial will bring full circle for future generations the American story of the Bainbridge Island Nikkei. They were the first to be removed from their homes and were among the last to regain their freedom. We must never forget what was done to these courageous and innocent people out of ignorance, fear, war hysteria and racism, lest it happen again.

Photographs donated by Curtis Suyematsu of Reflections Photography LLC.

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