Secret history of Building 640 in Park Presidio revealed

Secret history of Building 640 revealed

The Presidio National Park in San Francisco is making plans to honor more than 6,000 linguists from World War II, who were mostly Japanese Americans. They served their country while many of their families were ordered into detention centers. A warehouse across from Crissy Field sits empty and neglected. However, Building 640 has a secret history that’s about to be told. In 1941, before Pearl Harbor, it housed the first class of the U.S. Army’s secret Military Intelligence Service Language School. Training 60 linguists in anticipation of war with Japan, 58 of them were second generation, or Nisei, born here. After Pearl Harbor, the school was moved to Minnesota.

Now Building 640 will become a learning center, telling the story of Japanese Americans, their story of patriotism, and the pain of prejudice. (Sounds similar to the 442nd Regimental Combat Team.) A model of the future Building 640 is at the National Japanese American Historical Society, which has helped make the learning center dream a reality along with the Presidio Trust. Groundbreaking on this facility started this weekend.

Secret history of Building 640 in Park Presidio revealed

1 thought on “Secret history of Building 640 in Park Presidio revealed

  1. Jim

    I am a veteran of the Korean war and had close relatives in both the 442nd and the Millitary Intelligence. It is unfortunate that this was not done during and after the war. I am an 81 years old Nisei who was imprisoned along with my family. After being released, I had to suffer years of harassment from racists who felt justified because I had bombed Pearl Harbor. Possibly, more publicity in the media of our innocence and contribution to winning the war might have changed these racist attitudes but that was too much to ask of the media that were the ones fanning the flame to put us in the position we were in. Unfortunately, this country is quick to make irrational, emotional and illegal decisions but slow to atone for it. It is a sad comment on the mentality of this country that even now, when asked my nationality, answering, “American” is not sufficiant as it would be for an European-American. Not much has changed since 1942 when as a 12 years old American boy I was led at gun point to a barb-wired concentration camp euphemistically called a relocation center for 4 years.

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