Historic Resource Study/Special History Study
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With establishment of the "Peace of Manzanar" following the violence that erupted at the center on December 6, 1942, Project Director Merritt optimistically observed that throughout "1943 and into 1944. . . .the life of the Center crystallized into a pleasant and unexcited mood where normal human relations developed at their best." In spite of the "conflicting emotional decisions that had to be made by Center residents on loyalty, segregation, and relocation," schools "were in full swing," "health services" were "organized to a high state of efficiency," and "industrial operations in the manufacture of clothing, furniture, and many types of food stuffs, occupied and trained many people for later usefulness." Religious "organizations developed strength and large followings." The center agricultural pursuits "began to harvest a crop remarkable in variety and volume for the use of the residents." Recreational and social life "in the American pattern was at high tide and filled with enthusiasm and fine spirit." The "whole community moved outwardly and, in growing degree, inwardly, toward an understanding of the ideals of a high order of simple, peaceful, happy living." This movement was "due, in part, to the fact that the administration secured the cooperation of the evacuees in constructing living quarters on the Center to accommodate all members of the staff." Thus, "every employed staff member was able to live on the Center and work in the spirit of understanding and harmony." It was "due also to the leadership in Town Hall by the Block Managers and their Chairman (Kiyoharu Anzai), and the leadership throughout the Center, by all groups and points of view among the evacuees who found that the tragedy of evacuation and the restrictions of war could be forgotten in the common interest of mutual help in a sound community program.

According to Merritt, Manzanar "reached its highest level of accomplishment" during the autumn of 1944. Stressing the positive attributes of life in the relocation center, he continued:

. . . . There was no crime, people were busy and happy, and there was a general understanding and acceptance of the policies of the Washington staff and full cooperation with the Project Director and his staff. The residents of Manzanar were never coddled. Life was severly [sic] simple and as economical as a sixteen-dollar-a-month-wage scale would indicate. Mess hall meals cost an average of 12-1/2 cents; movies and the newspaper were free services from the Co-op; health services without cash gave security to the aged and ill; and the excellent schools prepared children for the eventual return to normal living in America.

On July 12, 1945, WRA Director Myer announced that all relocation centers would be closed by the end of the year, thus initiating the "final phase of feverish relocation activity" at Manzanar. Schools closed on June 1, and week by week other administrative sections in the center completed their responsibilities and closed their doors. The last evacuee left Manzanar on November 21, 1945, and Merritt reported with optimism and pride that the "spirit of the last day was the same as the spirit of the three years previous." The evacuees "were courteous and cooperative," and the staff "remained at its post until the job was complete." [1]

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Last Updated: 01-Jan-2002