Honouliuli to be Designated as National Monument

February 19, 2015, 11:48 AM HST · Updated February 19, 11:49 AM
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In December, US Senator Brian Schatz joined Carole Hayashino, the president and executive director of the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai‘i, and Jacce Mikulanec, president of the Honolulu Japanese American Citizens League, to present Interior Department Secretary Sally Jewell with petitions from more than 6,000 Americans requesting the inclusion of Honouliuli Internment Camp in the national park system.

In December, US Senator Brian Schatz joined Carole Hayashino, the president and executive director of the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai‘i, and Jacce Mikulanec, president of the Honolulu Japanese American Citizens League, to present Interior Department Secretary Sally Jewell with petitions from more than 6,000 Americans requesting the inclusion of Honouliuli Internment Camp in the national park system.

By Wendy Osher

President Barack Obama will designate the Honouliuli Internment Camp as a National Monument. The news was confirmed by the White House this week, and is one of three sites in the nation identified as new National Monuments.

Located on the island of Oʻahu, White House official say, “the monument will help tell the difficult story of the internment camp’s impact on the Japanese American community and the fragility of civil rights during times of conflict.”

Honouliuli reportedly opened in 1943 and eventually became the largest and longest-used internment camp in Hawai‘i for Japanese Americans, resident immigrants, and prisoners of war during World War II, according to the White House.

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Authorities say the facility once confined 400 civilians and 4,000 prisoners of war.

“The detention of more than 1,000 innocent Hawaii civilians during World War II remains a dark chapter in Hawaii and our nation’s history. The stories of those detained at Honouliuli and internment sites like it across the country are sobering reminders of how even leaders of the greatest nation on Earth can succumb to fear and mistrust and perpetuate great injustice,” said US Senator Mazie Hirono in a statement.

Fellow US Senator Brian Schatz also released a statement saying, “Honouliuli represents a dark period in our history when thousands of Japanese-Americans in Hawai‘i and across the country were forced into internment camps during World War II.  This historic site will memorialize the strength and bravery of the many Japanese-Americans who faced discrimination and serve as a reminder to ourselves and future generations that we cannot repeat the mistakes of the past.  Our deep gratitude goes to the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai‘i, the Japanese American Citizens League and others who worked tirelessly for this achievement.   It is meaningful and right that Honouliuli has finally received the historic recognition it deserves.”

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Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said the designation is a “proud moment” for Honolulu, but also a “bittersweet one.”  He called the World War II internment camps are a “dark segment of our nation’s history,” with the Honouliuli camp still holding memories for Honolulu residents. He said it is an important part of history that should be remembered and learned from.

The monument will be managed by the United States Department of the Interior’s National Park Service.  Other US sites identified for new National Monument status include Pullman National Monument in Illinois and Browns Canyon National Monument in Colorado.

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