An Assortment of Memories, a Myriad of Histories

1934 Words8 Pages
American society has traditionally been referred to as a “melting pot,” welcoming people of all races, religions, and heritages to enjoy the “freedom” that only America could provide. That was not always the case, as incidents such as the internment of Japanese Americans at Manzanar and the Lewis and Clark journey along the Columbia River exhibited American racial intolerance and demonstrated the inherent racism of the Manifest Destiny—an ideal upon which this nation was founded. Today, government agencies such as the National Park Service (NPS) aim to repair the United States’ negative reputation by creating national historic sites, which serve as either a celebration of American history or an apologetic reminder of events that can never…show more content…
This is a major reason why the National Park Service essentially contradicts itself and fails in its goals to create a unified history for all Americans. The treatment of memory at the Manzanar historical site specifically shows that the way in which the National Park Service treats historical sites containing foreign heritage will never be able to create a single, shared history for all Americans. One source of tension derivative of this project is the grossly generic incorporation of specific stories within Manzanar in its conversion from purely a site of tragic memory to a site of National memory. The production of this national memory tends to “absorb the meaning of individual and group histories, especially when that group represents an ethnic minority” (Hayashi 55). This absorption ignores specific stories of Japanese immigrant experience at the site, creating a universally incorrect generic representation of the experience and painting an incomplete picture of the events that occurred there. To paint an incomplete picture of a historical site is to contest the memories of the ethnic minorities who were there. When asked about this limited representation of Japanese immigrant history represented at the site, Jerry Rogers, Associate Director of Cultural Resources for the National Park Service, stated

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