Maui News


March 25, 2009, 1:17 PM HST
* Updated March 26, 9:31 AM
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A bill that would authorize a memorial for thousands of Hansen’s Disease Patients on the island of Molokai, has cleared a vote in the U.S. House and now awaits the president’s signature.The item is part of a larger Omnibus Public Land Management Act that was passed by the house in a 285 to 140 vote today.

Photo Courtesy Congresswoman Mazie Hirono's Office.  The photo was taken during one of Hirono's visits to the Kalaupapa Peninsula.

Photo Courtesy Congresswoman Mazie Hirono's Office. The photo was taken during one of Hirono's visits to the Kalaupapa Peninsula.

The monument was introduced to honor and perpetuate the memory of the Hansen’s disease patients who were forcibly relocated to the Kalaupapa Peninsula from 1866 to 1969. Of the approximately 8,000 former patients buried in Kalaupapa, only some 1,300 have marked graves.

“It is especially fitting that we approve this measure one week to the day before Bernard Punikai’a’s memorial service in Honolulu,” said Congresswoman Mazie K. Hironowho introduced the legislation.

“Bernard is one of many examples of island Hansen’s disease patients who led strong, dignified, and compassionate lives despite their physical condition. I also want to recognize the vision and dedication of Ku’ulei Bell, who passed away last month. Ku’ulei served as the president of Ka `Ohana O Kalaupapa, the group that will make this memorial a reality,” said Hirono.

Once signed into law, the advocacy group, Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa, will be responsible for funding the costs that surround the construction of the memorial. The monument’s location, size, design, and inscriptions must be approved by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior.


“I have visited the preferred site of the Kalaupapa Memorial, just across the roadway from Father Damien’s Church, St. Philomena Catholic Church, in Kalawao. And while the memories of the events that transpired in Kalaupapa are still painful, it is my hope the Kalaupapa Memorial will help bring a sense of peace and closure to family members and loved ones who remain,” said Hirono.


(Posted by Wendy OSHER © 2009)

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