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Hawaii Says "Sorry" to Leper Colonists

Apologies Abound: Hawaii Says "Sorry" to Leper Colonists

The state of Hawaii has apologized to the former leprosy patients that were forcibly confined to a remote peninsula on the island of Molokai. State Sen. J. Kalani English said in front of 12 former patients, "We're sorry. We're sorry for the treatment. We're sorry for the suffering that you've been through. The entire state is with me today as I say this."

Many families were torn apart when 8,000 lepers were sent to the compound in an effort to control the disease. The containment went on for over a century until 1969 when the requirement was ended. Though curing medicine was introduced in the 1940s, some patients chose to stay because it had become their home.

One of the brother's of the patients who didn't live long enough to see the apology said, "I know they're watching and nodding. All of these people. They're all agreeing. They're just saying 'at last.'"

To see who's in the picture,


Pictured above is Father Damien, the priest who went to the island to minister to the lepers and devoted his life to them. During his 16 years, he built six chapels, a home for boys and one for girls, dug graves and bandaged wounds. Father Damien eventually succumbed to the disease himself. He is one of Hawaii's two statues in the National Statuary Hall.

Are official apologies (like to the Aborigines and for slavery) a progressive step in the right direction? Will we see more to come?


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