Monday, June 4, 2001

Pearl’s historic battleships
should be forever joined

The issue: Should the battleship Missouri
be moved from her present mooring?

When USS Missouri was brought here and moored to a pier at Ford Island close to the Arizona Memorial, that was to have been a temporary berth until a permanent site could be built. Now it appears that Missouri may be kept where she is or moved only a short distance away.

The preference in this corner is that Missouri remain in place or be moved to a spot within sight of the Arizona Memorial. In addition, the two memorials should be integrated into a grand national monument by the National Park Service, the Missouri Memorial Association and the United States Navy. The park service administers the Arizona Memorial; the Missouri association is a private, nonprofit group; and the Navy supports them both.

A combined Arizona-Missouri memorial could be arranged with relative ease, even with bureaucratic obstacles to be overcome. It would begin with a revision of the movie shown at the Arizona visitor's center that depicts the Japanese surprise attack on Dec. 7, 1941. The narrative would move swiftly from that day through a summary of the war in the Pacific and end with the ceremony in which the Japanese surrendered aboard Missouri at anchor in Tokyo Bay on Sept. 2, 1945.

Then visitors would be taken by a Navy shuttle boat, as now, across the harbor to the graceful white bridge spanning the sunken Arizona. After that, they would again board the shuttle boat to go directly to Missouri. When that tour was finished, the shuttle boat would return to the visitor's center. This journey would eliminate the present cumbersome bus ride from the visitor's center around to Ford Island.

A combined Arizona-Missouri memorial would be more than a memorable tourist attraction as it would go the essence of American history in the Pacific. Arizona reflects tragic defeat and tells Americans that never again should we be caught off guard. She reminds us of the terrible cost in blood and treasure of being unprepared. At once, she marks a failure of deterrence and the 20th- century's classic miscalculation, by the Japanese, miscalculation having been the foremost cause of war since cave men fought with slings and spears.

Close by, Missouri is the symbol of triumph, a consequence of miscalculation, and a monument to American resolve and achievement when the nation is united in noble cause. Missouri cautions potential adversaries that they should not be deceived by the image of Americans as an easy-going, materialistic and sometimes isolationist people.

Curiously, the battleship Missouri reflects an American yearning for peace. On her deck, Gen. Douglas MacArthur proclaimed: "The skies no longer rain death. The seas bear only commerce. Men everywhere walk upright in the sunlight. The entire world is quietly at peace."

There are powerful lessons in Arizona and Missouri, lessons in danger of being lost as the World War II generation passes from the scene and takes away first-hand memories of Pearl Harbor and Tokyo Bay. Melding the two memorials would help succeeding generations to learn what the once mighty warships have to teach.

Judge should let DOE
proceed unfettered with
special-needs program

The issue: Attorneys in the lawsuit against
the state over the adequacy of the school
program for disabled children are asking
that a federal judge take charge of it.

HAWAII'S schools have made notable strides in recent years toward compliance with federal requirements for meeting the needs of disabled students. Much of the progress has been made with a federal judge breathing down school officials' necks. That pressure still is being felt and does not need to be greatly increased to push the schools over the threshold of those requirements. For that reason, the request that Ezra wrest control away from school leaders does not appear to be justified.

During this year's session of the Legislature, federal Judge David Ezra threatened to fine the schools and place the special-education program under his control if it did not receive adequate support. Legislators responded by increasing funding for special education by $43 million, but that still came up $30 million short of what the Education and Health departments had requested.

Attorneys pursuing a class-action lawsuit filed eight years ago on behalf of a disabled child named Jennifer Felix are calling for a judicial takeover of the program that provides both mental-health and educational services for affected children, who now total 11,000. In 1994, the state agreed to a decree in the Felix case to come into compliance with federal guidelines, but the deadline for it to do so was pushed back several times after the schools kept falling short. The current deadline is the end of this year.

Shelby Floyd, an attorney for the Felix plaintiffs, has accused the Legislature of "sabotaging" the Health and Education departments' efforts to comply with federal requirements. But that argument is no more valid than accusing the federal government of sabotaging special education by providing only a pittance of the 40 percent funding that Congress pledged when it enacted the law intending to protect disabled school children 26 years ago. Neither federal nor state appropriations should be sought or provided as blackmail.

Floyd also accuses the Department of Education of planning to limit mental-health services for children covered under the Felix decree when primary responsibility for those services are transferred from the Department of Health to the Department of Education, a transition that is to begin July 1. School Superintendent Paul LeMahieu says his department is expanding the number of school psychologists from seven to 72 and taking other measures to help integrate those children needing mental-health services into the school system.

Hawaii's program for educating children with special needs -- both the 11,000 Felix children and the 12,000 who don't require mental-health services -- is not in a shambles. So long as the state keeps making genuine progress toward compliance with the judge's earlier ruling, it should be allowed to proceed without interference.

Published by Oahu Publications Inc., a subsidiary of Black Press.

Don Kendall, President

John Flanagan, publisher and editor in chief 529-4748;
Frank Bridgewater, managing editor 529-4791;
Michael Rovner,
assistant managing editor 529-4768;
Lucy Young-Oda, assistant managing editor 529-4762;

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