Just inside the Chance Avenue Gate Entrance in front of the Commerce Building stands the Fresno Assembly Center Memorial in remembrance of the 120,000 loyal Americans and permanent residents, all of Japanese ancestry living primarily on the West Coast in 1942, who were forcibly uprooted from their homes and imprisoned in one of America's ten Concentration Camps during World War II. These individuals were persecuted in this manner on the false charge of being a "national security risk" following the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.
There were 5,344 local Japanese Americans incarcerated at the Fresno Fairgrounds during World War II for five months before being transferred to permanent Concentration Camps. After a thorough investigation by a Congressional Commission in 1981, Congress passed the Civil Liberty Act of 1988, which required the President to send a Letter of Apology and a token penalty Redress check of $20,000 to those who were still living.
This Memorial lists in bronze the names of all who were incarcerated here and the storyboards tell the personal tales of the tragic violation of the Constitutional Rights of these American citizens. As philosopher and poet George Santayana stated, "Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it.” This Memorial is designed to help our community to remember this tragic past event and not be condemned to repeat it.