In a report released Thursday, the National Park Service found that the former Honouliuli Internment Camp in Waipahu is a nationally significant historic site, a big step toward designating the area as a national monument.
The draft study evaluated 17 sites in Hawaii to determine what should be included in the national park system, and concluded that both the Honouliuli Internment Camp and the U.S. Immigration Station qualified as nationally significant.
The Honouliuli Internment Camp, which opened in 1943, held more than 300 internees in World War II and also served as the largest prisoner-of-war camp. More than 2,000 residents were interned in Hawaii during the war.
Monsanto Co„ which owns the farmland that includes the former internment camp, has promised to donate the land to preserve the historic site.
Political leaders praised the report for recognizing the importance of the internment camps in U.S. history.
U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, whose grandfather Shigeo Muroda was interned at Honoulliuli, said in a statement, “We cannot forget Honouliuli and sites like it in Hawaii. We have a responsibility to remember and preserve our history. The internment of Japanese Americans in World War II was a dark time for our nation, but one that should serve as a reminder and a warning of what we are capable of when we fall victim to suspicion, hate, and intolerance.”
Gov. Neil Abercrombie also issued a press release in support of the plan.
“The internment of Americans of Japanese ancestry was an example of race prejudice, war hysteria and a failure of political leadership,” Abercrombie said. “I applaud the National Park Service for recognizing the importance of preserving the Honouliuli Internment Camp to educate visitors about the internment history of Hawaii during World War II.”
The next step is a public scoping period that includes public hearings and soliciting comments from the public. Click here to submit comments online. Here’s the schedule of public meetings on the proposal:
Tuesday, May 27, 2-4 pm
Lab Building E132, University of Hawai’i-West O’ahu 91-1001 Farrington Highway
Wednesday, May 28, 6-8 pm
HONOLULU, O’AHUJapanese Cultural Center of Hawai’i 2454 S Beretania Street, #101
Thursday, May 29, 10 am-noon HONOLULU, O’AHUJapanese Cultural Center of Hawai’i 2454 S Beretania Street, #101
Thursday, May 29, 6:30-8:30 pm
Līhu’e Neighborhood Center 3353 Eono Street
Monday, June 2, 10 am-noon
Kaunakakai Elementary School Cafeteria Ailoa Street
Monday, June 2, 6-8 pm
Alexa Higashi Room, Maui Arts and Cultural Center One Cameron Way