A guard tower stands behind the entrance sign to the Minidoka National Historic Site near Jerome. The site once housed more than 9,000 Japanese Americans during World War II.

The Minidoka National Historic Site near Jerome is celebrating its 20th anniversary of joining the National Park Service with a virtual program featuring three people once incarcerated at Minidoka as children.

A Minidoka survivors’ panel is planned for 10 a.m. Jan. 17 and features Paul Tomita, Joni Kimoto, and Dave Sakura. The trio were incarcerated at the Minidoka Japanese internment camp with their families as children. They will recall their experiences at the relocation center, according to a historic site news release.

The Minidoka site originally called the “Minidoka War Relocation Center” operated from 1942 to 1945 and imprisoned more than 9,000 Japanese Americans during WWII. Most of the people of Japanese ancestry were from Oregon, Washington and Alaska.

At noon on Jan. 17, the site will present a discussion about the relocation center and its inclusion into the National Park system.

At 2 p.m. Jan. 17, a panel discussion will cover the story of the Minidoka Pilgrimage, a program that brings together survivors and their descendants to the site for presentations and remembrances.

The Jan. 17 programs will be available online via YouTube and Facebook. Go to Minidoka National Historic Site on Facebook for connections to the live presentations.

Minidoka National Historic Site is located at 1428 Hunt Road in Jerome, about 20 miles northeast of Twin Falls. Admission is free.

The visitor center is closed for the winter but the site is open for visitors to walk a 1.6-mile trail on a self-guided tour of buildings, such as the barrack and mess hall. Exhibits on the trail offer visitors an opportunity to learn about life at Minidoka and the history of why Americans were imprisoned by their own country during WWII, the Park Service said.

More information is available at