Monument or historic site proposed for Honouliuli

Monument or historic site proposed for Honouliuli
The Honouliuli Internment Camp
The Honouliuli Internment Camp

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A former internment camp where Japanese and European Americans were incarcerated during World War II could soon become a National Monument or Historic Site, the first ever in Hawai'i.

Tucked away in a Kunia, O'ahu gulch, the Honouliuli Internment Camp was known as "jigoku dani" or "Hell Valley".  Scholars estimate approximately 350 people were incarcerated there between March 1943 and November 1944, making it one of Hawai'i's largest World War II internment camps.

"The internment of Japanese Americans was a very painful chapter in their lives and forever changed the course of history.  So now, although its many, many years later -- decades later -- it still is very meaningful to the current generation and the future generation that it happened.  The internment happened, it was wrong, and we don't want people to forget," said Carole Hayashino, the President and Executive Director of the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai'i.

If Honouliuli is added to the National Park System, officials say the expectation is the public will eventually be able to visit the site and learn about the internment of Japanese and European Americans.

"There are 17 locations throughout the state of Hawaii, of those locations Honouliuli Gulch was the one identified as the most feasible for the National Park Service to be included," explained Paul DePrey, National Park Service Superintendent for the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument.  "It's something that we need to understand and want to make sure that people are aware of it. It's a part of our American legacy and we need to preserve it.'

The land is currently owned by Monsanto Hawai'i.  Officials say they're working to subdivide it so they can easily make the donation of approximately 160 acres, if the National Parks proposal is approved.

"We're excited that this study has come out and we believe this is a significant milestone for many of us that are working toward preserving the Honouliluli Internment camp for the community.  We believe this is the right thing to do," said Alan Takemoto, Community Affairs Manager for Monsanto Hawai'i.

Over the next 60 days, public meetings will be held on O'ahu and the neighbor islands to give the community a chance to weigh-in on the study draft.  After July 15, 2014, the Secretary of the Interior will recommend a course of action to Congress, who will make the final decision.

Public Meeting Schedule:

Kapolei, O'ahu: Tuesday, May 27, 2-4 pm

Lab Building E132, University of Hawai'i-West O'ahu, 91-1001 Farrington Highway

Honolulu, O'ahu: Wednesday, May 28, 6-8 pm

Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai'i, 2454 S Beretania Street, #101

Honolulu, O'ahu: Thursday, May 29, 10 am-noon

Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai'i, 2454 S Beretania Street, #101

Līhu'e, Kaua'i: Thursday, May 29, 6:30-8:30 pm

Līhu'e Neighborhood Center, 3353 Eono Street

Kaunakakai, Molokai: Monday, June 2, 10 am-noon

Kaunakakai Elementary School Cafeteria, Ailoa Street

Kahului, Maui: Monday, June 2, 6-8 pm

Alexa Higashi Room, Maui Arts and Cultural Center, One Cameron Way

Lāna'i City, Lāna'i: Tuesday, June 3, 2-4 pm

The Lāna'i Senior Center, 309 Seventh Street

Hilo, Island of Hawai'i: Wednesday, June 4, 6-8 pm

Hawai'i Japanese Center, 751 Kanoelehua Avenue

Virtual Meeting: Tuesday, June 17, 10 am-Noon (Hawai'i), 1-3 pm (Pacific), 4-6 pm (Eastern)

Virtual meeting web access information will be posted at: www.nps.gov/pwro/honouliuli

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