Once thought to be lost, the Honouliuli Internment Camp is now a national monument. Yesterday, a dedication ceremony in the Kunia gulch made it official. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell joined local leaders and several volunteers from the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai‘i, who have been working for years to preserve what was once the largest internment camp in the state. Secretary Jewell said the internment experience for Japanese Americans is an important part of the Pacific War, and one that shouldn’t be forgotten.
Following both Hawaiian and Shinto blessings, Jewell alongside state officials, untied a maile lei at the edge of a concrete foundation that was once the camp’s mess hall.
Honouliuli held about 400 American internees, mostly of Japanese descent. The camp also held as many as 4000 prisoners of war. The O‘ahu site was largely forgotten after the war, partly due to the feelings of shame many former internees felt. It wasn’t until a local television station asked about the camp’s location, that the site was re-discovered by the JCCH back in 2002. The 155-acre monument will be managed by the National Park Service who say it will take some time for the area to be open to the public.