September 10, 2014 • Leave a Comment
On this day in history, Rev. Abraham Akaka, died at age 80, Hawai'i, 1997. For the better part of three decades, Rev. Akaka was Kahu (shepherd) of Kawaiahaʻo Church in Honolulu, Hawaii. His mother was of pure Hawaiian ancestry, and his father was of Hawaiian-Chinese ancestry. He delivered his messages in both the Hawaiian and English languages.
During my teenage years, my mother, along with the ladies of the Hawaiian Civic Organization, Lei Hulu of California, worked on a project with the Kawaiaha’o Church. I do not remember the full extent of that project, but I am almost certain it involved some restoration project with monies donated from Lei Hulu. Through my mother, I was fortunate enough to get to meet & spend some time with Rev. Akaka. I remember him as a very peaceful man, whose words carried such a weight that they seemed to penetrate your very soul. He was kind, caring yet at the same time strong of spirit. I admired him very much.
An eloquent speaker, Rev. Akaka's March 13, 1959 address at Hawaii's formal statehood ceremony paints a clear image of the moment of the statehood announcement:
"Yesterday, when the first sound of firecrackers and sirens reached my ears, I was with the members of our Territorial Senate in the middle of the morning prayer for the day's session. How strange it was, and yet how fitting, that the news should burst forth while we were in prayer together. Things had moved so fast. Our mayor, a few minutes before, had asked if the church could be kept open, because he and others wanted to walk across the street for prayer when the news came. By the time I got back from the Senate, this sanctuary was well filled with people who happened to be around, people from our government buildings nearby. And as we sang the great hymns of Hawaii and our nation, it seemed that the very walls of this church spoke of God's dealing with Hawaii in the past, of great events both spontaneous and planned."
His death, a mere 2 months before my mother’s was difficult to process, although my mother reminded me that grieving for another’s life is normal, but so is death. It happens to all of us. Little did she know that before my grieving for Rev. Akaka could be put to rest, I would be grieving for her. Today, I pray in honor of a great man who changed so many lives and always lived HAWAIIAN.
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