U.S. Senator Brian Schatz

Obama making WWII internment camp in Hawaii a national monument

February 18, 2015

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By Michael A. Memoli

For more than half a century, what had once been Hawaii’s largest and longest-operating internment camp was ignored and forgotten. To the hundreds of Japanese Americans who had been forcibly confined at the camp, the experience was a source of shame and rarely spoken of until it was rediscovered by historians more than a decade ago.

On Thursday, President Obama will designate the plot of land in western Oahu that was the site of the Honouliuli camp as a national monument, White House officials told the Los Angeles Times. The designation is intended to bring greater awareness to it and to Hawaii’s distinct role in the World War II-era incarceration of Japanese Americans and what the White House calls “the fragility of civil rights during times of conflict.”

The announcement will come 73 years to the day after President Franklin D. Rooseveltsigned the executive order paving the way for the internment of Japanese Americans, a few months after Japan bombed Hawaii’s Pearl Harbor and drew the U.S. into the war.

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