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Tuesday, September 02, 2014         

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Honouliuli seeks federal park recognition

By Rosemarie Bernardo

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A National Park Service team is evaluating recommendations on how best to preserve the former site of the Honouliuli internment camp.

In February, the team initiated a special resource study of 13 confinement sites across the state, including Honouliuli, described as the largest.

Project manager Suzanne Bott said a draft report is being compiled based on recommendations from a series of public meetings. A final report will be sent to Congress, which will make the decision on whether to add Honouliuli to the National Park Service system.

"People here need to know that that happened here. I can't emphasize that enough," Bott said. "That whole story of civil liberties and how fragile they can be during times of great trauma, the psychological wounds of that terrible period. It extends so broadly that we really have to remember that that can happen, it did happen and be careful that it doesn't happen again."

A separate project on Honouliuli is being conducted by eight faculty members at the University of Hawaii at West Oahu through a federal grant. Each member of the group is researching a different aspect of Honouliuli that includes the intergenerational trauma of internment and the effects of internment on families, European internees and prisoners of war.

Susan Matoba Adler, professor of early childhood and elementary education at UH-West Oahu, said her mother, Chiyeko Hiraoka Matoba, and her father, the late Kishio Matoba, were interned at the Manzanar Relocation Camp in California. One morning at her Ko Olina home, Adler leafed through old photos of her parents, who met at Manzanar when her mother was 15 and her father was in his early 20s.

While her mother viewed her experience as that of a normal teenager attending high school despite the surrounding barbed wire, Adler recalled how her father did not want to discuss his time spent at the relocation camp while she was growing up in Madison, Wis.

Adler, who moved to Hawaii six years ago, said as she learns about Honouliuli through recent research at the National Archives, she continues to learn more about her parents' time spent at Manzanar.

"This is a passion," she said. "This is a lifelong endeavor."






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