Congresswoman Hanabusa's Bill, H.R.5706 - World War II Pacific Sites Establishment Act, Marked up in Committee
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate the inclusion of H.R. 5706 in today’s subcommittee hearing
H.R. 5706 is simply a functional re-designation of Pearl Harbor and the Honouliuli Internment Camp. Congress’ affirmation of what these sites symbolize in our history will mean a great deal to our World War II veterans and their families, Japanese-Americans, and others around the world.
Everyone knows Pearl Harbor; however, within the National Park Service system, this site is technically known as the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument. National Park Service materials reference Pearl Harbor as the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument. This is confusing because Pearl Harbor is not the only site included in the Monument. The Monument is also comprised of sites in Alaska and California.
Along with the well-known USS Arizona memorial, Pearl Harbor is host to the USS Missouri and the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park. Together, these attractions bring over a million visitors to Hawaii and Pearl Harbor every year, serving as a significant contributor to Hawaii’s tourist-driven economy.
Pacific Historic Parks, a non-profit established to support Hawaii’s National Park sites and a proven partner, regularly fundraises for the Pearl Harbor site to assist in upkeep. However, Pacific Historic Parks has stated that it can be confusing to fundraise specifically for Pearl Harbor when having to use its official name, World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument, which, again, includes more than just Pearl Harbor.
Pearl Harbor is a physical representation of “the day that will live in infamy,” the strides made in U.S.-Japan relations, and U.S. entry into World War II. This place deserves a name to match its separate identity and significance from the rest of the Monument.
The other monument addressed in this bill is Honouliuli, a lesser known confinement site, but I hope that more will soon learn its unique stories. H.R. 5706 would establish the Honouliuli National Monument as the Honouliuli National Historic Site.
As you know, I am the granddaughter of two internees, and one of my grandfathers was interned at Honouliuli. I did not learn that my grandfather was interned at Honouliuli or of Honouliuli’s existence until very late in his life. In fact, most residents of Hawaii, including many on my staff, never knew of Honouliuli until it was designated as a national monument. This highlights the urgency to learn as much as we can now from survivors in order to preserve Honouliuli, which the National Park Service has stated “appears to offer the greatest potential to preserve resources and interpret the history of the [World War II] internment.” I have visited Honouliuli, and there is still much work to be done.
Honouliuli was built with the purpose of holding Japanese-Americans and European-Americans of interest, as well as prisoners of war. While in operation, Honouliuli held approximately 400 Japanese-American internees and nearly 4,000 Japanese and Korean prisoners of war.
While Japanese-Americans on the mainland were interned indiscriminately, that would have been impossible in Hawaii’s predominantly Japanese-American workforce. Unlike the U.S. mainland, the military imposed martial law in Hawaii for the duration of World War II and came up with a process to identify those who were perceived to be a threat. These prisoners, mostly male, were separated from their families for years. Some were sent to the mainland – like one of my grandfathers, Honouliuli, or other sites in Hawaii.
Despite these circumstances, over 10,000 Japanese-American men from Hawaii signed up to serve this country in war. Over 2,000 men were accepted and served in what eventually became the 100th/442nd Regimental Combat Team. This unit, which includes Hawaii’s late Senator Daniel Inouye, is the most decorated of World War II. Their story is one of incredible patriotism, courage, and service.
The collective stories of Honouliuli, and the context in which it was built and operated, are invaluable lessons about the decisions made in the name of war or perceived threats.
H.R. 5706 is supported by our local community, demonstrated in these letters of support I have from the Pacific Historic Parks, the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii, and the Go for Broke National Education Center. Mr, Chairman, I ask unanimous consent that these be entered into the record.
To be clear, H.R. 5706 would not impact the funding, borders, or management of Pearl Harbor, Honouliuli, or the other Valor in the Pacific sites.
This bill will go a long way towards preserving what happened about 75 years ago at both Pearl Harbor and Honouliuli – the good and bad – for future generations and, I hope, will leave an impression of the sacrifices and courage of our greatest generation.
Mr. Chairman, thank you and I yield back the balance of my time.