Saturday, September 15, 2001

America Attacked

Thousands of islanders gathered at the state Capitol at
noon yesterday to pray for the thousands of people killed
Tuesday in the terrorist violence on the mainland.

Hawaii prays

Thousands from all walks of life
gather at the Capitol to mourn
Tuesday's human loss

By Richard Borreca

At 11:45 a.m. yesterday, only about 300 people had gathered in the state Capitol courtyard for a prayer and remembrance service. The officials and dignitaries, a few seniors citizens and tourists did not nearly fill the huge, open space.

But then they started flowing in from different directions through the Capitol's open-air structure, and 15 minutes later about 3,000 jammed the courtyard.

A woman on the Capitol's third floor draped
an American flag over the balcony while the
service was under way.

Some came with American flags, others brought candles, all came somber and quietly.

There were couples who came with their hands clasped in reassurance. Honolulu police officers came from the nearby police station. Firefighters walked in from Beretania Street. There were bankers, like BancWest Corp. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Walter Dods, and generals like state Civil Defense Director Maj. Gen. Edward Correa.

Yoshiko Kagoshima, from Niigata, Japan, who works for Obun Hawaii printing, came because she wanted to show her support.

Gov. Ben Cayetano joined hands with his wife,
Vicky, during the prayer service alongside Lt. Gov. Mazie
Hirono and husband Leighton Oshima.

"This is not just a problem for the United States. It can happen in any democracy," she said. "Today, I feel very bad."

Secretaries and clerks came. There were bureaucrats and prison guards standing shoulder to shoulder. Lobbyists and legislators stood silently.

Sen. Bob Nakata (D, Kahuku), who is a Methodist minister, tried to puzzle through the murderous attack.

"I just can't get my mind around it," he said. "I think we are looking at something that is true evil. If you ask why God would do it, I guess you have to say that God gives us total freedom, and it is up to us to choose good," he said.

As Alan Distajo, a city worker, stood waiting for the service, he said the attack was "like a part of all of us was lost.

A memorial service was held yesterday in the courtyard
of the Capitol as part of the national day of mourning.

"I came to pray," he said.

The Rev. Dan Chun said the attack, "which was to tear us apart, brought us closer together.

"Right now we weep as a nation," he said.

When Hakim Ouansafi, president of the Muslim Association and Islamic Center of Hawaii spoke, the Capitol became silent.

"Remove hatred and the labels we give each other, and replace them with compassion," he said, and the crowd opened in applause.

As Cathy Foy and the Royal Hawaiian Band lead the crowd in "God Bless America," people spontaneously held hands, held them high and sang.

Perhaps now thinking of the calls to war, as the thousands left, many stopped by the usually deserted Vietnam and Korean War memorials on the Capitol grounds to read the names of soldiers killed in past battles.

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