A small patch of prairie and crumbling buildings in eastern Colorado will be preserved to help future generations remember a despicable time in American history.
The Senate voted unanimously Monday night to pass the Amache National Historic Site Act, which is sponsored by the two Colorado senators, as well as Representatives Ken Buck and Joe Neguse.
“I am delighted that the Senate has passed our bill to make Amache part of the national park system,” Bennett said in a statement after the vote. “The incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II at sites like Amache is a shameful part of our nation’s history. Our bill will preserve Amache’s history so that future generations can learn of this dark chapter in our history.
The bill will move ownership and management of the site, which is already public land and currently overseen by volunteers, to the National Park Service.
To push it through the Senate, supporters agreed to a last-minute amendment to address concerns from Utah Sen. Mike Lee, who delayed its earlier passage.
Lee’s office said it was not opposed to adding Amache to the national park system, but did not want the federal government to increase the total number of its landholdings, even in the smallest measure. He first insisted that NPS give up the same amount of land – less than a square mile – in order to accept the Amache plot.
Instead, after negotiations between Lee and Colorado Senator Michael Bennet, the final version of the bill simply requires the NPS to accept the land as a gift from the city of Granada. .
Due to the amendment, the bill will have to return to the House for final approval. He was originally going to this room 416-2.
The bill’s approval comes just in time for the 80th anniversary of Executive Order 9066, this Saturday, which led to the internment of more than one hundred thousand Japanese Americans from the West Coast in inland camps. In addition to enduring the dehumanizing trauma of internment, families have been left destitute after having to sell their possessions and businesses quickly and often at a loss. The economic damage for many lingered for several generations.
“I have waited many, many years to see the day when we can be sure that Amache, as a place of reflection, remembrance, honor and healing, is protected for our present and future generations,” said said Bob, survivor and defender of Amache. Fuchigami, in a statement Monday. “My parents haven’t lived to this day. The moment isn’t just good; it’s long overdue.
The Amache preservation bill was a rare moment of agreement among Colorado’s congressional delegation, with all nine state members voting yes. In his top-floor speech on the bill, Bennet noted that his co-sponsor, Rep. Buck, was also Bennet’s opponent in the 2010 Senate race.
“If Ken was here, he would say there’s very little we agree on,” Bennett said, “but we definitely agree on that.”