Pearl Harbor Sites Get a New Name
Since 2008, many of the Pearl Harbor memorials and exhibits have been administered by the US National Park Service under the blanket of the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument. Then-President George W. Bush issued an executive order, creating a new monument that encompassed multiple sites across three states. In addition to sites in California and Alaska, it included the USS Arizona Memorial and the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center. It also included the USS Oklahoma Memorial, USS Utah Memorial, six Chief Petty Officer bungalows, and three mooring quays along Battleship Row, all on Ford Island. On 12 March, 2019, the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act was signed into law. The new law split the previous National Monument into three separate units. The sites on Oahu are now known collectively as the Pearl Harbor National Memorial.
Though the name change may seem inconsequential, it came in part in order to draw focus to the stand-alone historical importance of Pearl Harbor. According to Park Superintendent Jacqueline Ashwell, “Our prior name was rather long and unwieldy and difficult to remember. Everyone still referred to us as ‘the USS Arizona Memorial’, even though we now protect and interpret additional memorials and several historic remnants of the attack on Oahu.”
The new law creates three separate Pacific War memorials. In addition to the Pearl Harbor National Memorial in Hawaii, the act establishes the Aleutian Islands World War II National Monument in Alaska and the Tule Lake National Monument in California.
The name change from World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument is just the latest to occur at Pearl Harbor recently. The Pacific Aviation Museum underwent a name change to the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum. The aim of making "Pearl Harbor" the focus of the new names is to emphasize the historic importance of the December 7, 1941 attack on the base in forcing the United States into World War II.
The name change wasn’t just an aesthetic choice. According to former-US Representative Colleen Hanabusa of Hawaii, who sponsored the bill to change the name of the national monument, there has been difficulty in the past raising funds for Pearl Harbor under the Valor in the Pacific moniker.
When President Bush created it in 2008, the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument encompassed five locations on Oahu, three in Alaska, and one in California. Operations of each of the three components fell under different jurisdictions, with the National Park Service responsible for the Pearl Harbor sites, the US Fish and Wildlife Service managing the Aleutian Islands locations, and both administering the Tule Lake Segregation Center in California.
With the name change to Pearl Harbor National Memorial, the legislation also changed the Honouliuli National Monument to Honouliuli National Historic Site. According to Ashwell, this is to make it consistent with other World War II-era Japanese-American internment sites managed by the National Park Service. Those sites include the Manzanar National Historic Site in California and Minidoka National Historic Site in Idaho.