JACL Applauds House Vote to Establish Pearl Harbor Memorial, Honouliuli Historic Site

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Although there was no mass incarceration of Japanese Americans in Hawaii, many community leaders were sent to the Honouliuli Internment Camp on Oahu. (Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii)

WASHINGTON — The Japanese American Citizens League issued the following statement on Nov. 21.

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The Japanese American Citizens League applauds last week’s unanimous House of Representatives vote in favor of HR 5706 to establish the Pearl Harbor National Memorial and the Honouliuli National Historic Site in the State of Hawaii.

Both sites are pivotal to the history of our country and World War II, and particularly for the Japanese American community. We are especially grateful for Rep. [Colleen] Hanabusa’s championing of this bill.

The legislation separates Pearl Harbor from the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument and establishes it as the Pearl Harbor National Memorial. Rep. Hanabusa noted in her floor remarks, “Pearl Harbor is a physical representation of the day that will live in infamy, the strides made in U.S.-Japan relations, and the U.S. entry into World War II. This historic site deserves a name to match its separate identity and significance from the rest of the monument.”

The legislation also establishes the Honouliuli National Historic Site. Honouliuli is a lesser-known site of Japanese American incarceration during WWII where 2,000 Japanese and Japanese American men from the Hawaiian islands were imprisoned. Those imprisoned were often selected for incarceration because of their positions of leadership in the community. Among those selected were community leaders from the Buddhist and Shinto churches, the schools, and political leadership.

Honouliuli also provides the opportunity to tell the story of martial law on the Hawaiian islands during the war, in comparison to the mass evacuation on the West Coast.

Together, Pearl Harbor and Honouliuli tell the story of the Japanese American experience in Hawaii beginning with the fear and uncertainty for Japanese Americans after the bombing, the imprisonment of community leaders, and then the massive display of patriotism from 10,000 Japanese Americans who would volunteer to serve in the Army, with 2,000 going on to serve in the 100th/442nd Regimental Combat Team.

Congresswoman Hanabusa further noted in her floor remarks, “HR 5706 will go a long way toward preserving what happened more than 75 years ago at both Pearl Harbor and Honouliuli — the good and bad — for future generations and I hope will leave an impressions of the sacrifices and courage of our Greatest Generation.”

We cannot agree more with these sentiments, and urge the Senate to move quickly to pass this legislation for the president to sign into law.

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