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Press Release of Senator Cantwell

Senate Committee Passes Cantwell Legislation to Honor Bainbridge Island Internees

Wednesday, May 23,2007

WASHINGTON, DC - Wednesday, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee passed legislation introduced by U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) to preserve the Eagledale ferry dock site on Bainbridge Island as part of the National Parks system. The site served as the point of departure for the first Japanese Americans sent to internment camps during World War II.

"More that 120,000 Japanese Americans were forced into internment camps during World War II; the first to go came from Bainbridge Island," said Cantwell, a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. "Preserving this site will tell an important story and make sure it is never forgotten by future generations. Adding the site to our National Parks system will honor the strength of those sent to these camps, and recognize the sacrifices so many were forced to make."

On March 30, 1942, 227 residents of Bainbridge Island were ordered to report the Eagledale Ferry Dock site. They were the first of 10,000 Washington residents sent to internment camps—7,000 of them were eventually sent to the Minidoka internment camp in Jerome County, Idaho. More than 1,000 of the men sent to Minidoka signed up to serve in the U.S. military—the highest level of military participation of any of the ten internment camps. At least 73 of these men died in the war.

In March, Cantwell reintroduced her legislation to incorporate the eight-acre Eagledale ferry dock site on Bainbridge Island into the National Parks system. Her legislation is part of a larger internment memorial bill introduced by Senator Larry Craig (R-ID). Both Cantwell and Craig are members of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. The panel's Subcommittee on National Parks held a hearing on the legislation earlier this month. At the May 15 hearing, Tom Ikeda, Executive Director of Densho: The Japanese American Legacy Project, testified before the subcommittee on the importance of preserving the Eagledale site.

A May 2006 Interior Department report recommend including the site in the Minidoka National Monument as a satellite site. The satellite site would be called the Nidoto Nai Yoni National Memorial. President Clinton established the Minidoka Internment National Monument in January 2001. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Mike Crapo (R-ID) are cosponsors of the legislation. A similar bill has already passed the House, and the Senate version is now ready for consideration by the full Senate.