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2011 Top Stories: Heart Mountain Interpretive Learning Center opens

Tribune photo by Ilene Olson Tribune photo by Ilene Olson

Aug. 19-20 was a big weekend in Powell and Park County. That was when the Heart Mountain Wyoming Interpretive Learning Center opened at the sight of the former Heart Mountain Relocation Camp west of Powell.

More than 1,000 people gathered for the dedication of center. They included many Japanese-Americans who were among the internees at the camp during World War II and their descendants, as well as many local residents who remembered the camp.

Featured speakers during the weekend included U.S. Senator and decorated World War II veteran Daniel Inouye, and former NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw.

Former U.S. Rep. Norman Mineta and former U.S. Sen. Alan Simpson participated in the event, as did Judge Robert Ito of California, whose parents met at the camp. Mineta and Simpson met as Boy Scouts when Mineta was interned at the camp with his family and have remained friends ever since.

Following the weekend’s theme, “Lessons from the Past, Guidance for the Future,” the speakers all told of the internment of Japanese-Americans, most of whom were American citizens, as a violation of constitutional rights that never should be repeated.

The opening was the culmination of many years of effort the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation and by Park County residents LaDonna Zall, Dave Reetz, John Collins, Pat Wolfe and Chester and Mary Blackburn.

In the weeks following its opening, the center has seen a steady flow of visitors and was visited by several school groups.


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