MERCED — A documentary highlighting the construction of a memorial dedicated to Japanese-Americans who were placed in internment camps is scheduled to air Sunday on ValleyPBS.
"Merced Assembly Center: Justice Immortalized," focuses on the period when part of the Merced County Fairgrounds was an interment camp for Japanese-American citizens. The program will air 5:30 p.m. on ValleyPBS (Comcast channels 8 and 708; AT&T U-verse channels 18 and 1080; and Dish channels 18 and 8971), according Nathan Quevedo, spokesman for Merced County Office of Education.
The 53-minute documentary, produced by Merced Educational Television, goes behind the scenes of the memorial's construction and features several interviews with Japanese-Americans who endured the experience.
During World War II, about 120,000 Japanese-Americans were unjustly placed in internment camps.
The Merced County Fairgrounds location is historically significant because it was the site of one of the 21 assembly centers where Japanese-Americans were sent soon after the attack on Pearl Harbor.
The center in Merced housed 4,669 people. The internees arrived in Merced in May 1942, staying at the assembly center for three months before being sent to one of the 10 internment camps, in Amache, Colo., where most of them stayed until the end of the war.
The memorial was unveiled at the Merced Assembly Center on Feb. 20, in a celebration attended by more than 1,500.
The documentary commemorates that process. "This was a great project to work on and, more importantly, a great tool to help educate our community about the unfortunate events that took place at the fairgrounds 70 years ago," said METV manager, Shawn Bockoven.
The documentary's executive producer, Bob Taniguchi, said he's happy about the film and the memorial. "Not only does it honor those imprisoned, but it is an educational tool to remind the community this happened and to prevent something like this from happening again. We are fighting prejudice."
The special is scheduled to feature internees from the area who will discuss their experiences live from the ValleyPBS studios.