BY SEN. SAM SLOM, R-HAWAII KAI – As we commemorate the 10th anniversary of September 1, 2001, many of the documentaries and events held concentrate on the magnitude of the attack on America: Numbers of people killed, amount of commercial losses, cost in billions to rebuild.
But for people directly touched by 9-11, it often comes down to a memory of a single individual.
Hawaii Kai’s Henry J. Kaiser High School held a special program today for 9/11 and while all the losses were remembered, the focus was on a single individual loss that terrible day; Kaiser graduate (’93) Maile Rachel Hale.
Kaiser seems to b the only Hawaii public school or educational institution to hold such an event. It was professionally and respectfully organized by the faculty and student leaders.
There were nine people killed in New York City and Shanksville, Pennsylvania, with Hawaii ties on 9-11.
Maile Hale was valedictorian of her Kaiser graduating class. Her parents and two sisters were all involved with the school. She was remembered for her love, enthusiasm for life and help to others. She also loved Haunama Bay and Sandy Beach.
Maile attended college in the East Coast and landed a job with a prestigious Boston investment firm. In less than two years, Maile became a vice president handling portfolios worth billions of dollars.
On Tuesday, September 11, Maile, 26, was attending a business meeting in the Windows of the World Restaurant atop the World Trade Center. Also in the restaurant was Hawaii resident and chef, Heather Ho. Heather was a graduate of Punahou School. Maile and Heather apparently did not know one another.
When the word reached Hawaii of Maile’s death, Kaiser High immediately began to plan a fitting memorial for one of their most notable graduates. Korianne Tom was student body president then. She attended today’s event, spoke about the student planning in 2001, and the current educator delivered a flawless Aloha Chant.
Ten years ago, the students decided that a living tree would be the best remembrance for Maile, They selected a young Kukui tree, the State’s official tree, known for its many contributions to life.
Next, they retrieved a small boulder from Maile’s beloved Haunama Bay. They created a living memorial on the elevated lawn adjacent to the office on Kaiser’s campus. A simple plaque marks the event.
Today, the simple but elegant ceremony was led by students Toa Lohe, Raiatea Lohe, graduate Korianne Tom and teacher Rinda Fernandes. Hundreds of students took part. The school’s Polynesian Club Dancers performed Iz’s “White Sandy Beach” by Maile’s tree.
Principal John Sosa explained that Kaiser held an event in 2001, 2006, and will do so every five years to remind the youngest students of Kaiser’s involvement in 9/11.
Kaiser’s commemoration is about an outstanding individual, her attitude towards life and her accomplishments which will be the most remembered always.