Hawaii boy Barack Obama made it official Tuesday, signing a presidential proclamation designating the Honouliuli Internment Camp on Oahu as a national monument.

On hand to witness the historic event were Hawaii Gov. David Ige, Sens. Mazie Hirono and Brian Schatz, Rep. Mark Takai and Interior Secretary Sally Jewel.

According to Schatz’s office, Carole Hayashino, president and executive director of the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii, and Jacce Mikulanec, president of the Honolulu Japanese American Citizens League, attended the White House signing ceremony as well.

Honouliuli White House ceremony

From left: Sens. Schatz and Hirono, Sec. Jewell, Gov. Ige and Rep. Takai.

U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono

In the proclamation, the president said the monument “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.”

He continued:

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 Hawaii differed from the treatment of Japanese Americans on the U.S. mainland in ways that are detailed below, the legacy of racial prejudice, wartime hysteria, and failure of political leadership during this period is common to the history of both Hawaii and the mainland United States.


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