From behind barbed wire, a hopeful valedictory speech

May 11, 2022
Marion Konishi Camp AmacheMarion Konishi Camp AmacheCourtesy: Meredith Montgomery
Marion Konishi in 1943 when she was the valedictorian of Amache Senior High School.

In 1943, Marion Konishi was her high school class’ valedictorian. Held captive at the Camp Amache internment camp, she had countless reasons to despair over the state of her country. Yet her speech, “America, Our Hope Is In You,” struck an optimistic chord. With Amache just having joined the National Park Service, we had an actress read the speech. Then, Granada High School social studies teacher John Hopper on keeping the story of Amache alive.

Our thanks to Fort Lewis College historian and author Andrew Gulliford for bringing this story to our attention.

The housing barracks, built by the U.S. Army Engineer Corps, at the internment center where Japanese Americans are relocated in Amache, Colo., are shown on June 21, 1943. A space of 20-by-25 feet is allotted for each family with a communal bath house and a mess hall to serve each block of barracks. (AP Photo)
The Camp Amache site near Granada in southeast Colorado. During World War II, more than 7,000 Japanese-Americans and non-citizen Japanese were relocated from the West Coast and incarcerated at Amache, also known as the Granada Relocation Center. A memorial site, the gravel road grid, a few restored barracks and a water tank and guard tower are all that remain of the site on the dry high plains.