President Barack Obama officially designated Honouliuli Internment Camp as a national monument during a signing ceremony at the White House Tuesday.
The camp was the largest and longest-used confinement site for Japanese and European Americans and resident immigrants in Hawaii during World War II.
“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. 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,” according to the proclamation.
“While both mainland and Hawaiian internment camps are sobering examples of wartime prejudice and injustice, Honouliuli reminds us of the differences in the way that forced removal was approached in Hawaii and on the mainland,” it said. “Honouliuli is significant because of the comparatively lower level of public understanding and awareness of the history of internment of civilians in Hawaii during World War II. On the mainland during World War II, mass exclusion was well known. In contrast, the internment in Hawaii was largely kept secret during World War II, and has only recently become the subject of scholarship and awareness campaigns.”
The monument will be managed by the U.S. Department of the Interior’s National Park Service.
Gov. David Ige and Hawaii’s Congressional delegation were present for the signing, as were Carole Hayashino, president and executive director of the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii, and Jacce Mikulanec, president of the Honolulu Japanese American Citizens League.
“I am inspired by the voices of the Japanese American internees, inspired by the dedicated work of community volunteers, inspired by the overwhelming support from the community and inspired to know that Honouliuli will never be forgotten,” Hayashino said.
Click here to read the full proclamation.