Honolulu Lite


Wednesday, September 12, 2001

Somehow, yesterday’s
tragedy will touch us all

It's days like this that I wish we had come up with another name for this column. There are subjects that defy "lite" treatment, and yesterday's deliberate destruction of the World Trade Center in New York, the devastating terrorist attack on the Pentagon and the murder of hundreds of innocent airline passengers are a case in point.

As more is learned about the cowardly attack on unarmed civilians, many connections with Hawaii are inevitable. It is said there are only six degrees of separation between you and everyone else in the world. That means that with possibly tens of thousands of victims of this 21st century holocaust, there is a good chance that everyone in Hawaii will end up having a personal connection to some of the dead or injured. It may not be a direct connection, but it will be a friend of the family or the friend of a friend of the family or someone you might have gone to school with years before.

Luckily, the first story to arise about a Hawaii resident, just after the hijacked commercial airliners piloted by suicidal madmen crashed into the WTC and the Pentagon, was a happy one. As reported by Star-Bulletin reporter Gregg Kakesako, Randall Quan, an Iolani High School graduate, was only seven blocks away in his New York apartment when the Trade Center towers collapsed. Quan likely will know some of the victims. And so, there are only a few degrees of separation between Hawaii residents who know Quan and victims of the tragedy.

I learned of the attacks with one of those 4:30 a.m. phone calls you dread. My older brother Lucien, who graduated from Aiea High School and attended the University of Hawaii before becoming a Navy pilot, now flies for American Airlines. Thank God the chilling phone call came FROM him and was not about him. He wanted his family and friends in Hawaii to know that he was OK.

Lucien used to land jets on aircraft carriers, so he doesn't spook easily. But the irony didn't escape him that a commercial airline pilot today may be in more danger than a naval aviator.

I got chicken skin when he told me that just four days ago he had flown an American Airlines plane into New York, through the same approach corridor as yesterday's fatal flights. As pilots are apt to do, Lucien pointed out the various sights to his passengers, including the grand iconic towers of the World Trade Center.

He had his theories as to what happened on those airplanes before they crashed. Without going into details, he said that he believed the pilots were either killed or incapacitated by the hijackers. There is no way a pilot would deliberately crash into a building full of Americans, even with a gun to the head.

It will be these kinds of connections, the narrow degrees of separation between all Americans and the victims of this tragedy, that will bring the country together. Justice will be done. And it will not be lite.

Alo-Ha! Friday compiles odd bits of news from Hawaii
and the world to get your weekend off to an entertaining start.
Charles Memminger also writes Honolulu Lite Mondays,
Wednesdays and Sundays. Send ideas to him at the
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Suite 7-210,
Honolulu 96813, phone 235-6490 or e-mail

The Honolulu Lite online archive is at:

E-mail to Features Editor

Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]

© 2001 Honolulu Star-Bulletin