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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Tuesday, November 13, 2001

Maui memorial impresses veterans

By Timothy Hurley
Advertiser Maui County Bureau

Maui County Councilman Alan Arakawa takes a moment to reflect at the new memorial to Maui County's war dead.

Timothy Hurley • The Honolulu Advertiser

WAILUKU, Maui — When the Rev. Clarence Kamai Sr. first saw it 27 years ago, he was pretty disappointed. The memorial honoring Maui County's war dead outside War Memorial Gym was nothing more than a glass display case with the names of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice spelled out in white stenciled letters on a black felt board.

"It was kind of pilau,'' said Kamai, a veteran of three wars.

"Now look at this,'' he told a throng of nearly 200 who gathered yesterday for the dedication of a new memorial. "Now that's class," he said, referring to a wall with 50 granite panels inscribed with the names of 287 service men and women from Maui, Lana'i and Moloka'i who were killed in World War I, World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.

The Veterans Day ceremony at the entrance to the gym in Wailuku included speeches, patriotic music, a laying of wreaths and a 21-gun salute.

The $158,000 project financed by the county is the fruition of a campaign of more than six years by the 16-group Maui County Veterans Council.

Along with the new memorial wall, the gym's Tadashi Sato mural is being restored by the renowned Lahaina artist and will be enclosed in glass and dedicated at a later date.

Those who saw the memorial yesterday were clearly impressed.

"This is a wonderful testimony to how a community treats its fallen war heroes,'' said Korean War veteran Abel Cravalho.

Kamai, commander of American Legion Post 8, urged the standing-room-only crowd to treat the new memorial with the respect it deserves.

"This has become a sanctuary,'' he said.