Preserving One of Hawaii's Internment Camps - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Preserving One of Hawaii's Internment Camps

Harry Urata Harry Urata
Mary Farrell Mary Farrell
Brian Niiya Brian Niiya

By Roger Mari

HONOLULU (KHNL) -- It was a dark chapter in Hawaii's history. Island residents were removed from their homes and put into internment camps during World War II.

Sixty-five years later, former captives remember the day when the gates to their camp opened.

Approximately 300 Hawaii residents, most of them American citizens, were sent to the Honouliuli internment camp in 1943. Now, more than 6 decades after their release, the area could soon become a national historic site.

Being at the Honouliuli camp site touched the lives of many including former internee Harry Urata. He says he has forgiven and forgotten the treatment he had endured at the site and hopes Honouliuli can be preserved to educate others about the impacts of war.

"After the war everything is peace and all that. We're going to forget. To the generation after us, they got to remember what happened, that's important," said former internee Harry Urata.

During an archeological site survey, plate fragments were found, along with insulation from a water pipe both in the administration area of the site. Researchers believe it's important to continue looking for more evidence of how people spent their time at the Honouliuli camp site.

What you're doing then is showing more clearly how people lived what they were doing, how they coped, how they were confined. It makes the story a lot more real," said Archeologist Mary Farrell.

Preserving the site is important to those who spent time there, and it would serve as a reminder that history does not have to repeat itself.

"I think we definitely study history to learn, not so much about the past, but to learn about the present and the future," said Brian Niiya of the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii.

More than 120,000 people spent time in camps across the continental U.S. and Hawaii. It's their hope preserving site will shed light on a dark time in the nation's history that also affected our islands.

National park service archeologist Jeff Burton has surveyed the site and plans to submit a nomination for the national register of historical places.

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