Saving Honouliuli, a Valuable Educational Reminder of World War II

In October 2009, the National Park Service (NPS) launched a special resource study to validate the national significance of the Honouliuli Gulch Internment Camp and 16 other related internment sites as a component of World War II and its suitability as it related to the forcible internment of Americans of Japanese Ancestry (AJA). In addition to documenting the historic resources at the site, the study was to also determine the feasibility of adding the site under the direct management of the NPS, as opposed to other management alternatives, including other public agencies or the private sector.

The study was made possible by legislation led in Congress by U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye, U.S. Senator Daniel Akaka, U.S. Representative Mazie Hirono and  U.S. Representative Neil Abercrombie, supported by co-sponsors across the United States and the Pacific territories of American Samoa, Guam and Northern Mariana Islands.

The study concluded that the Honouliuli Gulch Internment Camp (and the U.S. Immigration Station) on Oahu are nationally significant for their central role as internment sites in Hawaii during World War II. The incarcerations depict a distinct and important aspect of American history associated with civil liberties that were not represented or protected elsewhere, making it suitable for inclusion in the national park system. (Note: The immigration station is currently in use by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security)

The recommendations in the study include placing management responsibilities with the national parks system, which presently includes, among other things, the National Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl and the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor.

The addition of Honouliuli as a significant component of World War II would provide opportunities to educate future generations on the social injustices that occurred with the forcible internment of AJAs. It would be a welcomed supplement to the current educational opportunities provided by existing World War II sites managed by NPS in Hawaii and those managed by the private sector, such as the USS Bowfin and Pacific Submarine Museum and the Battleship Missouri Memorial at Pearl Harbor, and the Pacific Aviation Museum on Ford Island, among others.