Kalaupapa memorial needs government help
Approval in the U.S. House of a bill to authorize a memorial to Hansen's disease patients banished to Kalaupapa is likely to lead to enactment by the end of this year. The anticipated congressional action should bring impetus to a public-private campaign to pay for the monument bearing the names of the 8,000 patients exiled to the Molokai peninsula.
Marked gravestones of Hansen's disease patients on the four-acre park number 1,300, less than one-sixth of those buried at Kalaupapa. Patient members, friends and relatives established Ka Ohana O Kalaupapa five years ago as a nonprofit organization to promote the dignity of the exiled patients. The ohana has been collecting 8,000 names from the handwritten Board of Health ledgers in the archives and entering them into a computer database for placement on the memorial.
State Senate President Colleen Hanabusa has proposed an expenditure of $100,000 from the state to help pay for the monument. That might not be enough. Dr. Chiyome Leinaala Fukino, the state director of health, says the cost "may actually run into the millions of dollars."
In such a case, federal assistance would be appropriate, as Congress established Kalaupapa as a national historical park in 1980. Other than the marked gravestones, a statue of Father Damien DeVeuster is the only monument in the park.
Authorization for the monument was introduced in the U.S. House near the end of 2006 by then-Rep. Ed Case and was steered to House approval this week by his successor, Rep. Mazie Hirono. Ideally, the bill would include federal funds for the monument before Senate approval and enactment.
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