Ken Kitajima, one of the last survivors of Colorado incarceration camp, Camp Amache, passed away at 91. He lived in the Amache camp near Granada from 1943 to 1945, according to The Denver Post.
Kitajima made an effort to tell his story of World War II Japanese prison camps to others.
Interior Department Secretary Deb Haaland reflected on Kitajima’s efforts following his passing. Haaland tweeted, “We will honor his legacy in the work we do to acknowledge this painful chapter in our nation’s history.”
The camp opened following President Franklin Roosevelt’s Order 9066. The site housed more than 10,000 Japanese Americans in its three years of operation, according to the VailDaily.
“They gave us two weeks to get ready to move to the train with only what you could carry. To make the story short — leaving out many details — our family lost almost everything we owned,” Kitajima told the VailDaily in March.
He was an active participant in the Amache community. Kitajima also served in the Air Force during the Korean War, but faced racial prejudice in his initial years of service, according to the VailDaily.
“Over the many recent years, I have found that millions of U.S. citizens — young school children, young adults and some old ones — knew little or nothing about the true history of this shameful act,” Kitajima said.
In March, President Joe Biden signed the Amache National Historical Site Act. Through this act, the Camp Amache site will serve to educate others and allow reflection on the historical events that happened there, according to the National Park Service.
“As a young boy at Amache, I never thought I’d see an America that cared about my story,” Kitajima told The Denver Post.
((EDITOR NOTE: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated Kitajima was the last survivor. We regret the error)
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There are still several Amache survivors. Please fix this. Signed the son of a still-alive survivor