President Obama designates former Hawai‘i wartime camp a national monument

Honouliuli National MoNument Signing — (Left): As Interior Secretary Sally Jewell looks on, President Barack Obama greets Jane Kurahara at the doorway of the Oval Office before he signed a proclamation on the establishment of the Honouliuli National Monument, Feb. 24. Kurahara is a retired school librarian who helped rediscover the site of the Honouliuli internment camp  in 2002. White House photo by Pete Souza

Honouliuli National MoNument Signing — As Interior Secretary Sally Jewell looks on, President Barack Obama greets Jane Kurahara at the doorway of the Oval Office before he signed a proclamation on the establishment of the Honouliuli National Monument, Feb. 24. Kurahara is a retired school librarian who helped rediscover the site of the Honouliuli internment camp in 2002. White House photo by Pete Souza

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama on Feb. 24 signed the official proclamation declaring the former Honouliuli confinement site a national monument.

“The Honouliuli Internment Camp (Honouliuli) serves as a powerful reminder of the need to protect civil liberties in times of conflict, and the effects of martial law on civil society,” said the presidential proclamation, presented at the White House Oval Office. “Honouliuli is nationally significant for its central role during World War II as an internment site for a population that included American citizens, resident immigrants, other civilians, enemy soldiers, and labor conscripts co-located by the U.S. military for internment or detention.

“While the treatment of Japanese Americans in Hawai‘i differed from the treatment of Japanese Americans on the U.S. mainland … the legacy of racial prejudice, wartime hysteria, and failure of political leadership during this period is common to the history of both Hawai‘i and the mainland United States.”

Obama’s statement comes on the 73rd anniversary of Executive Order 9066, which President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed, leading to the mass incarceration of some 120,000 persons of Japanese descent in concentration camps during World War II.

According to the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai‘i, Honouliuli, which opened March 1, 1943, was the longest operating and largest World War II concentration camp and prisoner of war camp in Hawai‘i.

“Going forward, it’s going to be a monument to a painful part of our history so that we don’t repeat the mistakes of the past,” Obama said, in a statement issued by the White House’s Office of the Press Secretary.

The camp, located on west O‘ahu, imprisoned 320 citizens, resident aliens and prisoners of war. The prisoners were predominately Japanese Americans, but Japanese, German and Italian permanent residents who were living in Hawai‘i were also imprisoned, the JCCH said.

“Today, I think about all the people who made this day possible. Starting with the Campbell Estate vice president who spent a full day with us on the search to locate the site of the Honouliuli Internment Camp to the high school students who wrote letters to President Obama,” said Jane Kurahara, JCCH staff associate, on Feb. 24.

Last December, JCCH Executive Director Carole Hayashino, Honolulu Japanese American Citizens League Chapter President Jacce Mikulanec, and Hawai‘i’s congressional leaders including U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz,  presented petitions to Interior Department Secretary Sally Jewell with signatures of more than 6,000 Americans supporting the inclusion of the Honouliuli site in the national park system.

The JCCH added that nearly 4,000 prisoners of war were imprisoned there. In total, during World War II, more than 2,300 Japanese American men and women from Hawai‘i were incarcerated, including many prominent community leaders, teachers, journalists, religious leaders, local politicians and World War I veterans.

Speak Your Mind

*

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Kyplex Cloud Security Seal - Click for Verification