Dedication Video on You Tube


The Empty Chair adorned with 1000 cranes.

David Albright of Albright Media has edited his filmed footage of the Empty Chair Memorial dedication ceremony and posted the finished product on You Tube. He is the grandson of Walter Fukuyama, one of our honorees, and we are very grateful that David has used his skills and creativity to make this very special addition to the archives of the Empty Chair project.

So, if you were unable to attend the ceremony or if you just want to savor some of your favorite moments from the dedication ceremony, I am sure you will enjoy his efforts. It’s about 30 minutes long.  Just click the link below and you are whisked to his video.

Thank you David!

A Picture Walk Through Dedication Events



Greeting part of the Tanaka family as they arrive for dedication events at the Juneau International Airport. Left to Right: Mary Tanaka Abo, Margie Shackelford, Roger Grummett, Karleen Grummett, Joe Abo, Aiko Abo Dominguez, Dixie Belcher, Maya Abo Dominguez and Julie Abo Dominguez.

 Community Support


One of the signs placed in windows of Juneau businesses by the Juneau Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.



Display in Juneau Downtown Library featuring photos, documents, books and information about local families who were incarcerated at Minidoka.


The Empty Chair exhibit introduction at the Juneau-Douglas City Museum.

July 9 – Dedication Practice


Practicing in the rain for the removal of the cranes adorning the chair on dedication day. Left to Right: Gabryel Kito, Maya & Aiko Abo Dominguez, Tessa Garnett, Clare Homan  and Koen Schultz.

July 11 – Premiere of the Empty Chair documentary at the 20th Century Theatre.


An easel outside the 20th Century Theatre announcing the premiere of the Empty Chair documentary by filmmaker Greg Chaney.



“Next showing” above the an aisle entrance inside the theatre.


People lining up inside the theatre to watch the movie.


Greg Chaney introducing his movie, “The Empty Chair.” His documentary eloquently illuminates the story of the Empty Chair with many voices from both the past and the present.


Reception following the documentary at the Silverbow Inn, home of the former Messerschmidt bakery.


Friends since childhood: Andy Abo, David Shackelford, Julie Abo Dominguez and Gina Shackelford Garnett.


Honored guest Jeanne Tanaka and her daughter Liz Philips enjoying the reception.



Rob, Elaine and Kats Hikido sampling reception snacks.


Frank Homan and honored guest Walter Fukuyama.


Richard Tanaka and Greg Chaney relishing the afterglow of the movie’s positive reception.



Honored guests Sam Kito and Lisa Taguchi compare stories.


Larry Johnson, honored guests Mary Tanaka & Lisa Taguchi, and Bonnie Chaney sharing a table.


Janie Hollenbach Homan and Julie Abo having a giggle.


Patti Warashina, Joe Abo and David Gray warm up after walking through the rain to the Inn.


Marsha Bennett, David Tanaka and Jeanne Tanaka enjoy conversation and a cup of tea.


Three of the trusty crane makers: Joyce Hall Mill, Joannne Cowling Wilder and Betty Marriott.


The Five M’s from the former Juneau High School Class of 1958: Martha (Swanson), Mary (Tanaka Abo), Margie (Shackelford), Emily (Stuart) and Marsha (Bennett).

July 12 – Dedication Ceremony


The chair adorned with its colorful 1,000 cranes awaiting the ceremony while the plastic behind it keeps the chairs dry….a typical Alaskan event! The rain never stops you from celebrating!


Close-up of the cranes.



Mary Tanaka Abo anticipating the coming events.


Mitchell Henderson and his mom, Stacy Grummett, pass out dedication booklets to all attending the ceremony.


Brent Fischer, Department of Parks & Recreation Director for the City and Borough of Juneau, NPS Grant Administrator and Master of Ceremonies at the Empty Chair Dedication.


Juneau Mayor Merrill Sanford accepting the memorial on behalf of Juneau.


Margie Shackelford thanking everyone for their contributions and introducing the honorees either present at the ceremony or being represented by a family member: Mary Tanaka Abo, Kiichi Akagi represented by his grandson Randy Wanamaker, Walter Fukuyama, Alice Tanaka Hikido, Sam Kito, Sam & Gim Taguchi represented by Gim’s daughter Lisa Taguchi, John Tanaka represented by his wife Jeanne Tanaka and William Tanaka represented by his son Mike Tanaka.


Mike Tanaka standing to honor his father William (“Bill”) Tanaka and receiving his origami crane pin from Karleen Grummett, assisted by Jackie Triplette.



Karleen exchanging a hug with Jeanne Tanaka, wife of John Tanaka, in an emotional moment after honoring Jeanne with an origami crane pin in memory of the memorial dedication.


Roger Grummett thanking all the local people who contributed to the construction of the site for the Empty Chair. They were: Memorial Transport – Jim Williams, North Pacific Erectors; Site Design – Wayne Jensen, Jensen Yorba Lott, Inc.; Site Construction – Jim Triplette, Triplette Construction; Site Concrete – Bob Lupro, AGGPRO; Site Wall Stone – Dirk Lovig, Alaska Stone and Concrete and Site Excavation – Jerry M. Godkin, Inc.


Peter Reiquam, the creator of the Empty Chair Memorial, sharing the source of his inspiration for the chair’s design.


Gabryel Kito, granddaughter of Sam Kito, introducing the chair’s unveiling ceremony.


Mary Tanaka Abo’s grandchildren, Maya and Aiko Abo Dominguez, remove the first strand of cranes from the chair.


Frank and Janie Homan’s grandchildren, Clare Homan and Koen Schultz, carry their strand of cranes to an honoree’s lap.


Tessa and Zoe Garnett, Margie Shackelford’s grandchildren, placing their cranes in Walter Fukuyama’s lap.

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Mary Tanaka Abo, Randy Wanamaker, Walter Fukuyama, Alice Tanaka Hikido and Sam Kito adorned with cranes.


Steve Tada, accompanied by Nancy Nash, playing Haru no Umi, “The Sea in Spring,” to a hushed and awed audience.


Alice Tanaka Hikido reading the text inscribed on the memorial floor.


Betty Marriott begins the reading of the 53 names on the memorial.



Todd Albright continues the reading of the names on the memorial.


Jeff Tanaka reads next.


Julie Abo Dominguez reading the last of the names.


Marie Darlin and Walter Fukuyama reflecting on the meaning of the Empty Chair memorial in their lives.


Kristi Tanaka reading the words to a Japanese folksong called Furusato or “My Home Town”.


Bethany Tanaka sweetly playing Furusato or “My Home Town” to end the dedication ceremony.



Peter Reiquam sitting in the “chair” surrounded by Alice Tanaka Hikido, Patti Warashina and Mary Tanaka Abo.

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Here we have two sets of sisters who are very relieved that all has gone well…even in the rain: Margie, Mary, Alice and Karleen.


The Tanaka family gathered in front of their old family home in Juneau and looking happy to be together.

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The chair left with a remaining strand of cranes for company.

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The chair looking toward the channel and the future.

Thank you to our photographer, Gina Garnett, and additional thanks for photographs from Julie Abo, Karleen and Roger Grummett and Jackie Triplette. They tell the whole story!





Dedication Day Coverage

Here is a link to an article written for the Juneau Empire just before the Empty Chair dedication by Melissa Griffiths titled Full hearts welcome Empty Chair memorial.

Additionally, below you will find links to the Juneau Empire Photo Gallery featuring 37 photographs of the Empty Chair dedication ceremony and KTOO’s radio coverage at their online location. 

And, as if that wasn’t enough, we “got ink” in two Thumbs Up-Thumbs Down articles in the Empire. We were a definite Thumbs Up!

Thank you Juneau Empire and KTOO…you ROCK!

What a memorable day! Enjoy the coverage.


Chaney Film Will Kick Off Empty Chair Events

Greg Chaney’s documentary titled The Empty Chair kicks off a series of events planned for the Empty Chair Memorial Dedication. It will be shown at noon on Friday, July 11th, at the 20th Century Theatre in downtown Juneau and again on Saturday at 7:00 p.m. at the Nickelodeon Theatre. Donations will gladly be accepted.

Below is a picture of Marie Darlin and Jack Pasquan taken by Greg while they were sharing memories about their time at Juneau High School in the early forties.



Marie and Jack talking about old times.

Greg was specifically interested in the 1942 graduation when the empty chair was left to mark the place where John Tanaka should have sat had he not been incarcerated at Minidoka Internment Camp. Marie and Jack were juniors at the time, and their friend Walter Fukuyama suffered a similar fate.



Jack Pasquan reflecting on high school years.

If you attend the movie, you will see many familiar Juneau faces. All their stories are compelling. Come and see for yourself.

Waiting for Dedication Day


The view of Gastineau Channel above the memorial in Capital School Park.

Above you can see workmen adding a rock facing to the front of the retaining wall while the chair awaits its dedication day under the crate that has been assembled to keep it from public view.

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Close-up view of the crate containing the memorial and the new rock facing on the retaining wall.

Artist Peter Reiquam attached the memorial to its base earlier this week. It sits on a concrete aggregate foundation donated by AGGPRO. The last touch was added to the memorial when Alaska Stone and Concrete placed a stone facing, which they donated to the project, on the front of the sitting wall.

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A close-up of the rock facing on the wall.


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A view from the east side of the memorial site.

Below you see some of the cranes that are waiting to “fly in” for the ceremony. Everything is in readiness and now we are just waiting for July 12th to arrive so we can celebrate the dedication of the Empty Chair Memorial!


Half of the 1,000 cranes.

The Empty Chair On Its Way

Peter Reiquam has informed us that the memorial he has created for the Empty Chair Project is on its way from the Seattle area to Juneau on a Samson Tug and Barge courtesy of Jim Williams and his company North Pacific Erectors. Peter will be arriving the week of June 23rd to attach the chair to its platform on its site in Capital School Park. It will be kept “under wraps” until the dedication ceremony at 2:00 o’clock on July 12th.


The Empty Chair boxed up in Seattle and ready to be shipped to Juneau.


Peter Reiquam taking the memorial to the docks

In Juneau Jim Triplette’s crew, Andy Pekovich, and Roger and Karleen Grummett are hard at work readying the site in Capital School Park for the arrival of Peter and the memorial.

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On the left, Jim Triplette is directing traffic as John Dybdahl (middle) and Tom Dougherty (right) level the area where the chair will sit.

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The area behind the retaining wall has now been filled in and the leveled section in front is ready to be filled with concrete.



Loren Hope, Tom Dougherty, Andy and Roger trying out the “sitting wall”.

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Karleen pruning the pesky, prickly… but lovely… Sitka roses.


Roger and Andy replacing the sod behind the retaining wall.

As I write, the crew is waiting to pour concrete because the rain has decided to pour instead! Next, the exposed wall will be covered with a rock face. It’s all coming together beneath the beautiful backdrop of Mt. Juneau.



The Forced Removal & Resettlement of Juneau’s Japanese Community, 1941-1951

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On June 2, the Juneau-Douglas City Museum opened its anticipated Empty Chair exhibit focusing on the Juneau Japanese people who were forcibly removed and incarcerated in 1942 at Minidoka Internment Camp, Idaho. The collective reflections include information about each family’s life before, during and after confinement. The eight featured families, who consented to share their experiences, include those of Kiichi (Henry) Akagi, Hikohachi Fukuyama, Torao (Bob) Kanazawa, Haruo (Ham) Kumasaka, Saburo (Sam) Kito, Katsutaro (Slicker) Komatsubara, Sam and Gim Taguchi and Shonosuke Tanaka.

The exhibit’s posters tell each family’s story with accompanying photographs, documents and letters, lending gravity to the displays. Their stories recall how friendships with people in Juneau helped them hold onto hope and build new lives again upon their release. Also showcased are crafted items made at Minidoka from available materials such as wood or onion sacks and local historical artifacts like a laundry bag from the Juneau Laundry when it was owned by the Fukuyama family.

Juneau artist Fumi Matsumoto created seven mixed media pieces depicting the physical and emotional isolation of the camps adding an underlying emotional element to the exhibit. (View some of these pieces that were featured earlier in this blog by scrolling down a few paces.)

A station giving directions and materials for making cranes, a symbol of peace, are offered to all visitors. Also in the exhibit, a suitcase filled with cranes contributes an element of color and hope to an otherwise somber and thoughtful reflection on this regrettable portion of American history.

The museum is the site of a public reception the day of the Empty Chair Memorial Dedication on July 12, 2014, from noon to 5pm. Their Empty Chair exhibit will run through October 26, 2014.

Please visit and add your crane to the mix!