“When you see all the names on the Memorial, it will be like everyone is standing right there in front of you. It will bring tears to my eyes."
—‘Ohana President Boogie Kahilihiwa
Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa continues to move forward with plans for The Kalaupapa Memorial. When the ‘Ohana organized in 2003, the Kalaupapa community asked that the Memorial be a priority. The community has expressed a need for a Memorial since 1985 – and the majority of residents have favored locating the Memorial at Kalawao on the site of the former Baldwin Home, which operated from 1894 to 1932. For more than 70 years, the buildings of the complex have been gone.
The Memorial will eventually list the names of everyone sent to Kalaupapa because of government policies regarding leprosy. Of the estimated 8,000 people who have died at Kalaupapa, fewer than 1,000 have tombstones. At least 90 percent of those individuals were Native Hawaiians. About 2,000 of these early residents are buried in a vast cemetery of unmarked graves across the road from where the Memorial will be located. The Memorial will return the names of all of these individuals back to their rightful place in a history they helped to create.
The ‘Ohana worked closely with the Hawaii Congressional delegation on The Kalaupapa Memorial Act, which was signed into law on March 30, 2009, by President Obama. The bill authorized the ‘Ohana to establish the Memorial and choose the location and design with the approval of the Secretary of the Interior. Since then, the ‘Ohana has been collaborating with The National Park Service on a Draft Environmental Assessment (EA) and other federal compliance required for the Memorial.
Once the EA has been approved and the location assured, the ‘Ohana will sponsor an open Design Competition for the design of the Memorial. The Design Competition will be announced through a press release and outreach with additional details on the ‘Ohana website
The ‘Ohana will also begin fund-raising for the Memorial with a variety of public events and educational presentations.
Let’s hope the next phases for the Memorial will progress quickly so as many Kalaupapa residents as possible will be on hand for the dedication.
This is the view of the setting for the Kalaupapa Memorial as seen from the entrance of St. Philomena Church. The Memorial would be located toward the back of the grounds of the former Baldwin Home, more than 100 yards from the church. There may be a partial view of the Memorial from St. Philomena, which many people believe would enhance the landscape.
Photo by DeGray Vanderbilt
“Adding the Memorial would enhance the feeling of sacred space, since it would call to mind all the people who worshipped at those two sites and the others for whom they prayed daily.”
The Most Reverend Larry Silva
—Bishop of the Diocese of Honolulu, in stating his support of locating the Kalaupapa Memorial near St. Philomena and Siloama churches in Kalawao.
‘Ohana leaders Sol Kaho‘ohalahala,
Monica Bacon and Boogie Kahilihiwa stand near the site of the former Baldwin Boys Home where the Kalaupapa Memorial has been proposed to be located. Photo by Wayne Levin