Popular World War II exhibit extended at San Francisco's Presidio

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- At the beginning of World War II, San Francisco's Presidio wasn't just a military post for the war in the Pacific, it was the hub for a domestic battle here at home: the forced evacuation and internment of Japanese American citizens.

Liz Melicker is the curator of EXCLUSION: The Presidio's Role in World War II Japanese American Incarceration. The exhibit highlights the history of Western Defense Commander Lt. General John L. DeWitt. From his desk in the Presidio, DeWitt orchestrated President Roosevelt's executive order for the mass evacuation.

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"And he is the one who actually issued the 108 civilian exclusion orders that incarcerated Japanese Americans en mass along the West Coast," Melicker said.

The exhibit features moving photos, from the evacuation in the Bay Area, to life in dusty relocation camps, to political resistors like Fred Korematsu. But interactive exhibits also solicit the feelings of visitors today. And Melicker says it seems to have touched a nerve with many people.

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"And the themes of the exhibition, mass incarceration, immigration reform, racial profiling, are themes that continue to resonate, obviously with this history, but also with visitors today," she says.
Nearly 43,000 people have viewed the exhibit since it opened, roughly a year ago, outstripping previous exhibits. In fact the EXCLUSION exhibit has proven so popular with current audiences, that it's now being renewed.

"And we're going to be extending it for an additional year, into the spring of 2019," says Melicker.

The exhibit is located in the Presidio Officers' Club, and is free to the general public. Click here for details on the exhibit.

Click here for a look back at our past stories and videos about World War II.

Written and produced by Tim Didion

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