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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted at 10:39 a.m., Thursday, November 15, 2001

Apology issued for flying of flag over 'Iolani

By Mike Gordon
Advertiser Staff Writer

The executive director of the Friends of 'Iolani Palace has apologized for flying the U.S. flag over the Hawai'i landmark as a tribute to the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

In a Nov. 8 letter to the board, staff and volunteers at the palace, Alice Guild said she was "so, so sorry for the pain that has been caused" to those in the community who objected to the flag's presence.

The U.S. flag was flown over the palace for 30 days beginning Sept. 28. It was the first time since 1969 that the U.S. flag was raised over the historic building. The decision to fly the flag was approved the day before by the group's board of directors.

Guild, who did not return telephone calls to The Advertiser, said in her letter that she received numerous e-mails and letters from the Hawaiian community shortly after the flag went up. She called them "hate mail" and "hurt mail."

"At first, I didn't understand why the Board's action was not seen as a simple gesture of support for those who had suffered so terribly," she wrote. "The Board's decision flowed from the heart, as did many decisions made during that time."

Guild said in September that there was precedence for the flag-raising because Queen Lili'uokalani flew the U.S. flag in 1917 to mourn and honor Hawaiians killed in World War I. The deposed monarch flew the flag over her personal residence, Washington Place.

Board member Lynette Cruz praised Guild for apologizing.

"I think it took tremendous guts," Cruz said today. "The issue is self-reflection. And if you do something you think is good and you take a lot of flak from Hawaiians, you have to consider: What is everyone upset about?"

The decision to fly the flag was based on a misunderstanding of history among board members and that only a government can decide to fly the flag of another nation, Cruz said.

"The palace doesn't belong to the friends, it belongs to the Hawaiian people," Cruz said. "The friends are the guardians. But I think their intentions were honorable."

Among the email sent to Guild and Cruz was one from Kau'i Goodhue.

"Her Majesty, Queens Lili'uokalani's decision to fly the American flag over her PRIVATE residence was her right," Goodhue wrote. "Her intention was not to set 'precedence,' it was the act of the rightful constitutional Monarch whose country and people always dictated her actions."

Goodhue wrote that the palace and all it represents is too close to her heart for words.

"But I would rather see 'Iolani Palace burned to the ground than to see the U.S. flag flying over her again," Goodhue wrote.

Reach Mike Gordon at mgordon@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8012.