TWENTY-FOURTH LEGISLATURE, 2008
STATE OF HAWAII

SENATE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION

RECOGNIZING AND ACKNOWLEDGING THE PEOPLE OF KALAUPAPA AND THEIR FAMILIES FOR THEIR SACRIFICES, AND APOLOGIZING TO THE PEOPLE OF KALAUPAPA AND THEIR FAMILIES FOR ANY HARSH RESTRICTIONS THAT CAUSED THEM UNDUE PAIN AS THE RESULT OF GOVERNMENT POLICIES SURROUNDING LEPROSY.

WHEREAS, from 1866 to 1969, an estimated 8,000 citizens of Hawai‘i were forced to leave their families and to be isolated, most often on the Kalaupapa peninsula, because of society’s fear of leprosy (also known as Hansen’s disease); and
    WHEREAS, these individuals were mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters who were separated at all ages, from very young to very old; and
   WHEREAS, for many of these residents, the separation was permanent, yet, because they felt they were protecting the general public from a disease that was not curable until the 1940s, most people diagnosed with leprosy willingly made this greatest of sacrifices; and
WHEREAS, these sacrifices were made because these heroic individuals did not want anyone else to experience this disease, which was not only physically painful, but also emotionally difficult to bear; and
    WHEREAS, despite being exiled by their own government and suffering great deprivations and injustices throughout much of their lives, the people of Kalaupapa have been remarkably resilient and have responded to their situations with kindness, generosity, and forgiveness rather than anger, bitterness, and despair; and
   WHEREAS, the families of those sent to Kalaupapa also suffered unimaginable pain; and

   
   

WHEREAS, fathers and mothers were forced to take their unsuspecting children diagnosed with leprosy to a designated facility and leave them there, resulting in farewells of agony and sorrow; and
   WHEREAS, those same parents would later watch from the docks as their children were loaded onto the ships destined for Kalaupapa, possibly the last time they would see one another; and
WHEREAS,children born to the people of Kalaupapa were immediately taken away at birth and grew up with other relatives or in orphanages, and, if they were fortunate, would eventually get to know their parents, but not until they were nearly adults or older; and
   WHEREAS, relationships between parents and children could be difficult to establish and maintain because of the forced separation; and
WHEREAS, the Kalaupapa residents and their families have mostly accepted their circumstances throughout the years and put their lives back together as best they could; and
WHEREAS, even after the medicine to control leprosy was introduced in 1946, the government was still slow to end the isolation laws which were not abolished until 1969, allowing anyone diagnosed with leprosy to be treated at home with no fear of separation; and
   WHEREAS,, there has never been an official acknowledgement to the people of Kalaupapa for all that they did and the exemplary manner in how they have lived their lives; now, therefore,
   

BE IT RESOLVED by the Senate of the Twenty-fourth Legislature of the State of Hawaii, Regular Session of 2008, the House of Representatives concurring, that the Legislature recognizes and acknowledges the people of Kalaupapa and their families for their sacrifices, for thinking more of the public than of themselves, for giving up freedoms and opportunities the rest of society takes for granted, for rebuilding their lives with pride and dignity, for overcoming prejudice and discrimination, and for consistently reaching out to others in need; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Legislature, on behalf of past governments of Hawai‘i, apologizes to the people of Kalaupapa and their families for any harsh restrictions that caused them undue pain as the result of government policies surrounding leprosy; and
    BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this overdue action be issued with the utmost respect and admiration for those remaining Kalaupapa residents, the descendents of those who have died and family members who all have endured separation from loved ones and the anguish that came with it; and with the hope that such severe measures of separation and injustice are never imposed upon people with a disease ever again; and
    BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that certified copies of this Concurrent Resolution be transmitted to all the residents of Kalaupapa, Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa, the Governor, the Director of Health, and the Superintendent of Kalaupapa National Historical Park.

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