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WWII-era camp projects get boost

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  • “(The internment camps) are poignant reminders — today and for future generations — that we must always be vigilant in upholding civil liberties for all.”
    Jonathan Jarvis
    Park Service director

The National Park Service awarded grants to two Hawaii organizations totaling more than $350,000 to support ongoing efforts to preserve Japanese-American internment sites.

The Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii received two grants totaling $254,102, and the Friends of Waipahu Cultural Garden Park, also known as Hawaii’s Plantation Village, was awarded $112,000.

The awards are among 20 totaling more than $2.8 million from the NPS Japanese-American Confinement Sites Grant Program in support of projects across the country.

More than 120,000 Japanese-Americans, two-thirds of whom were U.S. citizens, were confined to internment camps under Executive Order 9066 in the wake of Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. The largest in Hawaii was Hono­uliuli, which in February was proclaimed a national monument by President Barack Obama.

"As stewards of our nation’s history, the National Park Service recognizes the importance of preserving these confinement sites," Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis said.

"They are poignant reminders — today and for future generations — that we must always be vigilant in upholding civil liberties for all. These grants help us share valuable lessons on the fragility of our constitutional rights and ensure the experiences of those who were incarcerated are not forgotten," Jarvis said in a news release.

The Japanese Cultural Center’s largest grant for $215,502 will be used to produce a four-part documentary sequel to "The Untold Story: Internment of Japanese Americans in Hawaii," produced in 2012. "A sequel to “The Untold Story: Internment of Japa­nese-Americans in Hawaii” will be composed of four 15-minute films detailing the 17 confinement sites set up in Hawaii during World War II.

Carole Hayashino, president and executive director of the cultural center, said: "We’ve brought a lot of attention to Honouliuli. We don’t want people to forget that there was a total of 17 confinement sites in Hawaii."

The short films will be compiled into an hourlong DVD to be posted online for educational purposes. The DVD also will be distributed to public and private high schools in Hawaii as a curriculum packet for history classes.

The cultural center’s second grant of $38,600 will be used to produce a comprehensive report to identify and map physical features at Hono­uliuli and other internment sites.

Hawaii’s Plantation Village in Waipahu will use its grant to work on the second phase of a restoration project of an administration building at Honouliuli that’s believed to be a guardhouse. The first phase was conducted in 2010 through a Park Service grant to research the history and conduct an assessment on the condition of the building.

The structure is one of two buildings at the site. The second building is believed to be the barracks for guards and will likely be reconstructed.

Lorraine Minatoishi of Minatoishi Architects Inc. was hired by the plantation village to create a set of drawings and specifications on how best to restore the administration building. Two students from the University of Hawaii’s School of Architecture will also work on the project.

Part of the grant award will also be used to create a yearlong museum exhibit at the plantation village on restoration efforts and the history of Honouliuli.

Hawaii’s congressional delegation applauded the federal grants.

"The incarceration of Japanese-American citizens during World War II is a blemish on this nation’s history," U.S. Rep. Mark Takai said in a statement. "However, even to this day, many people remain unaware about this terrible deprivation of basic rights granted by the Constitution of the United States. The funds being allocated to the two Hawaii organizations will provide an opportunity to preserve and share this important piece of Hawaii’s history by telling of the story of all those who were wrongfully imprisoned.

"Through raising awareness on this issue, we can prevent a travesty like this from occurring in the future."


CORRECTION: A previous version of this story reported the films will focus on 17 internment camps. (A majority of the confinement sites were places where detainees were temporarily held, such as county jails, the U.S. Immigration Station and a gymnasium on Kauai.)

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