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University of Arkansas at Little Rock

National Park Service notifies Lewis of war relocation cemetery funding

Dr. Johanna Miller Lewis, a professor of history at UALR, received notification this week of National Park Service grant funding of $220,000.

The grant will support the conservation and restoration of the cemetery at the Rohwer War Relocation Center in Desha County.Dr. Johanna Lewis, UALR

“I am delighted that the National Park Service, through the Japanese American Confinement Sites grant program, will support Phase II of the Rohwer War Relocation Center cemetery conservation and restoration project,” Lewis said.

She said the funding will help support leveling and cleaning of the Rohwer headstones and restoration of flower holders in front of each one. The original walkways through the site will also be reconstructed.

“The two monuments look so wonderful after the treatment they received in Phase I that I’m anxious to also show off the headstones and pathways as they looked during the War, too,” Lewis said.

“As Arkansans and Americans, I believe this project is minor, but important, recognition of the denial of constitutional rights experienced by Japanese Americans during World War II.”

She said that while that project raised awareness about the camps in Arkansas, nothing was done to preserve the cemetery monuments and headstones, which were showing
signs of deterioration.

Lewis has helped secure two previous National Park Service grants. The first funded a conservation assessment of the Rohwer cemetery, while the second restored two concrete monuments last year.

Monument to the Dead ComparisonThe funding at Rohwer cemetery is an outgrowth of a 2001 to 2004 education project about the two former war relocation camps in the Arkansas Delta, according to Lewis.

The Rohwer internment camp, in operation from September 1942 to November 1945, confined more than 8,000 Japanese Americans at its peak.