Alamedan Returns to Historic Site

Courtesy photo    Susanne La Faver (right) and husband Lyle didn’t forget their favorite local newspaper while on a pilgrimage to the National Historic Site, Manzanar, Calif., last month.

Alameda residents Lyle and Susanne La Faver traveled to Manzanar National Historic Site for the 50th Manzanar Pilgrimage. More than 2,000 people, spanning generations, ethnicities and religions, participated in the April 27 event, which included speakers, awards, interfaith service and small- and large-group discussions.

Located in the eastern Sierra, the site is one of 10 internmant centers built during World War II to house Japanese Americans unjustly removed from their homes and businesses. Manzanar was the first camp in operation and held more than 10,000 people in one square mile, including orphaned youngsters in the Children’s Village.

Susanne’s great-aunt Margaret Matthew d’Ille, of Berkeley, served as Manzanar’s social welfare director from 1942 to 1945. Margaret was fluent in Japanese and appreciated Japanese culture and heritage having served 10 years in Japan with YWCA, from 1908 to 1918. 

Two park rangers recently traveled to Alameda from Southern California to record Susanne for Manzanar’s oral-history program documenting stories of camp internees. Sharing her great-aunt’s role of bringing peace to the camp following the Dec. 6, 1942, riot is a passion for Susanne. 

She’s been a featured speaker at Manzanar, Sonoma County Japanese-American Citizens League Day of Remembrance and numerous community groups.