Written by Lyle Ahrens, Posted: Mon, July 2 2012 at 4:58 PM, Updated: Mon, July 2 2012 at 5:11 PM
About 300 people have been in the Klamath Basin this weekend to visit a former concentration camp near Tulelake, and share their experiences.
Jimi Yamaichi helped to build a jail inside of the Tulelake concentration camp...
"Who in their right mind would want to go back to a jail that they spent four years in?"
Over 110,000 Americans of Japanese descent were taken from their homes, and held in 'relocation' or 'internment camps' during World War 2. The largest of the ten camps was located just outside of Tulelake.
"Internment camp is not a correct usage of the term." Notes Hiroshi Shimizu of the Tulelake Committee. "The Department of Justice had internment camps for enemy aliens, but most of the people in the War Relocation Authority camps were citizens."
300 people met at Oregon Institute of Technology over the weekend for the 19th Tulelake Pilgrimage held since 1974.
Distinguished guests included Hiroshi Inomata, Consul General of Japan to San Francisco...
"I can see tomorrow what's the place like - what kind of life our old Japanese-Americans have had. I think that's pretty good experience for myself."
The group visited the camp on Sunday.
They toured the stockade, and the old shared their stories with the young...and that's what keeps Jimi Yamaichi coming back.
"To refresh my mind. To talk about it. To tell people the story about the jail, the stockade - the whole campsite."
Jimi Yamaichi built more than just a jail.
The site was dedicated as a National Monument in 2009.
And the site still serves as a reminder of times when not all Americans are treated as 'free', or 'equal'.
A Japanese cultural program titled '1000 Cranes Over Tulelake' will take place tonight at the Ross Ragland Theater as part of this year's pilgrimage.
The program gets underway at 7:30.
KOTI-TV NBC2 reporter Lyle Ahrens moved from Nebraska to Klamath Falls in the late 1970's. He instantly fell in love with the mountains, the trees and the rivers, and never once regretted the move.
Lyle's job history is quite colorful. He’s managed a pizza parlor; he’s been a bartender, and a “kiwifruit grader” at an organic orchard in New Zealand. A Klamath Falls radio station hired Lyle in the mid 90's as a news writer and commercial producer. In 2004, Lyle joined the KOTI/KOBI news operation.
Lyle notes with pride that he has a big responsibility presenting the Klamath Basin to a wide and varied audience. "The on-going water crisis has underscored the fact that the people and the issues in the Klamath Basin are every bit as diverse as the terrain. Winning and keeping the trust of the viewers, as well as the newsmakers, is something I strive for with each story".
When he's not busy reporting the news, Lyle enjoys astronomy, playing guitar, fixing old radios and listening to anything by Sheryl Crow.