Kalaupapa memorial signed into law
President Obama’s signature last week finally confirmed what Molokai residents already knew – their family, friends and ancestors of Kalaupapa deserve recognition. The Kalaupapa Memorial Act, introduced by Congresswoman Mazie K. Hirono, part of the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009, establishes a memorial for the 8,000 former patients buried in Kalaupapa, only 1,300 of which have marked graves. The President invited Congresswoman Hirono and Hawai‘i Senator Daniel Akaka to attend the signing ceremony at the White House.
“The passage of this law should be a proud moment for all Americans. We will now be able to recognize the Hansen’s disease patients of Kalaupapa for the way they led dignified, inspirational lives under extremely challenging circumstances,” said Hirono. “This memorial will provide family members a place to visit and reflect since the majority of patients at Kalaupapa have been buried without grave markers.”
Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa, a nonprofit organization consisting of patient residents at Kalaupapa National Historical Park and their family members and friends, 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 would like to thank the members of Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa for their ongoing efforts in establishing this memorial. I will continue to work with them until the Kalaupapa Memorial becomes a reality,” said Hirono.