After two years of envisioning a memorial, telling its story and appealing to the community for support, the Empty Chair Committee is proud to report that on Saturday, July 12th, the Empty Chair Memorial will be dedicated in Capital School Park at two o’clock.
A key ingredient to this success has been the reignited interest in a heart-breaking chapter of Juneau history. The Juneau community and motivated friends have supported the project with their generous donations. The National Park Service became a partner when they selected The Empty Chair Project as a recipient of grant money dedicated to this endeavor. It also enabled the committee to begin developing an educational component around the Empty Chair so its symbolism and story will be available to future generations.
Committee members are in the process of planning the dedication ceremony while artist Peter Reiquam begins fabricating the memorial. The Juneau-Douglas City Museum will be hosting a reception following the dedication. Around 40 members of the honorees’ families plan to attend the celebration. What an exciting and memorable day that will be.
Juneau-Douglas City Museum
In addition to the dedication ceremony, our guests will be able to visit an exhibit titled The Forced Removal and Resettlement of Juneau’s Japanese Community in the Juneau-Douglas Museum. The exhibit encompasses the years 1941 to 1951 and tells the stories of eight families: Kiichi (Harry) Akagi, Hikohachi Fukuyama, Torao (Bob) Kanazawa, Haruo (Ham) Kumasaka, Saburo (Sam) Kito, Katsutaro (Slicker) Komatsubara, Sam Taguchi, and Shonosuke Tanaka.
Each family has provided photos, documents and text that help tell their individual experiences before, during and after the war years. Also, various artifacts have been donated for the display. Some, made in camp, include a vase made out of greasewood, a carved bird pin and a cigarette case made of woven strands from an onion sack. A dish towel made from a rice sack with a City Café imprint and a Juneau Laundry bag from businesses operated by Tanaka and Fukuyama respectively will also be displayed.
Local artist, Fumi Matsumoto, whose parents were incarcerated, has created assemblages that depict the desolation of the camps and will have a number of those pieces on display.
Empty Chair Documentary Screening
We are also delighted that Greg Chaney has committed to screening his ninety-minute documentary titled The Empty Chair on Friday, July 11th. We are now in the process of settling on an appropriate venue and time for showing the film. In addition to individuals pictured in a previous post, here are some photos Greg took while interviewing men and women who have contributed their very important recollections to the Empty Chair story.
This documentary will be an important and compelling addition to the history of Juneau. Thanks to all of you who told your truth as you saw it.
The Empty Chair Committee would be honored by your presence at all of these scheduled events.