The final service for the slain
Xerox workers draws civic leaders
and hundreds of friends, relatives
A letter from President ClintonBy Lori Tighe
Mother and daughter walked away from the final memorial service honoring the seven slain Xerox workers, one unable to speak and the other speaking for her.
Basilica Campbell knew John Sakamoto as a co-worker, and her mother knew Peter Mark as a Kaimuki High schoolmate.
"She's devastated," Campbell said, looking after her mom. "The service was very touching. It'll take time to heal, but this will help."
A final memorial service for the public, Xerox employees, customers and the victims' families was held last night at Central Union Church.
Gov. Ben Cayetano and his wife, Vicky, were there, standing next to Honolulu Mayor Jeremy Harris and his wife, Ramona. Xerox leaders all the way to the top of the company chain of command attended and spoke. President and Mrs. Clinton sent a letter of condolence. The barefoot Honolulu Boy Choir offered the comfort of their dulcet voices.
And several ministers reminded the mourners what can be learned from the sudden and senseless deaths.
"The way for us to preserve the life of the land is to do good," said the Rev. David Kaupu, chaplain for Kamehameha Schools. "The way to preserve ourselves after this tragedy is to do exactly that -- good."
The chaplain told the crowd of about 800 people that they need to pick up where the victims left off by practicing the values of the seven men, by reaffirming the spirit of aloha in their families at work and their families at home, and by doing good to each other.
Seven wreaths stood at the altar for Ford Kanehira, Jason Balatico, John Sakamoto, Melvin Lee, Peter Mark, Ron Kawamae and Ronnie Kataoka.
Shortly after the killing on the morning of Nov. 2, a Xerox Hawaii employee wrote a letter to Tom Dolan, president of Xerox North American Solutions Group, who read part of it aloud at the service.
The employee said he had lost his father and brother a while ago, but on that Tuesday when they let the employees go home, he cried just as much as he had for his father and brother.
"All seven of my compatriots were good people, the salt of the earth," the employee wrote.
But in the midst of the tragedy, goodness came from a multitude of people who "refused to let Tuesday's senseless act of violence overshadow our lives."
The employee said he made a list of all those he respected and loved and began calling them that night. The next day he did the same thing.
"I told all of them -- even customers who were good, decent people -- that I love them."
"Hillary and I extend our deepest condolences to the families, friends, and co-workers of those who died in the tragic shooting rampage at Xerox's Honolulu office earlier this month. While there is little that can ease your pain at such a sudden and devastating loss, I hope you can take comfort in knowing that people across America share your grief and are keeping you in their thoughts and prayers.
A letter from
Now we celebrate the lives and pay honor to the memories of Jason Balatico, Ford Kanehira, Ronald Kataoka, Ronald Kawamae, Melvin Lee, Peter Mark and John Sakamoto. We may never be able to make sense of the violence that took their lives. But in the face of such tragedy, we have seen what is best in your community.
In the difficult days ahead, Hillary and I hope that you will find strength in the outpouring of sympathy and support from all those who have been touched by your grief. We will continue to pray for your comfort and healing.
May God bless you all.