Hawai'i Forgiveness Hero

The following individuals, plus an entire U.S. Army unit, were honored as Heroes of Forgiveness at the events in Honolulu, August 1, 2004.

The 442nd Regimental Combat Team (RCT)
and the 100th Infantry Battalion

This team of courageous World War II volunteers was at first dishonored and regarded with suspicion because they werer Japanese Americans. But they transcended this racisim, proved their loyalty, excelled in combat, and became the most-decorated unit in U.S. military history. Most of all, they forgave those who treated them unfairly, and served their country, then and now. Several living members of the 442nd will be present at the Forgiveness Day events to be honored.

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Steve Backman and Chris Loukas
In 1995, Steve Backman's life was spiraling downward in a daily ritual of
cyclical drinking and a cry for help. Little did he know that his cry for
help would soon be heeded through a head-on automobile collision that
nearly killed an innocent victim, Chris Loukas. Six weeks after the
accident, Steve visited Chris against the family's and attorney's wishes,
and was given the gift of forgiveness by Chris, an act that transformed
Steve's life to soberness and peace. Both of the men and their families
have since developed a strong bond of friendship and share their story so
others can find the miracle of forgivness in their lives.

Ricky Hirakawa
A couple of years ago, Ricky Hirakawa's brother was murdered in a drug
related incident that consumed him with hatred for the man who killed his
brother. At the trial, however, Ricky noticed that no one was there to
support his brother's killer and despite the protests of some of his
family, he reached out in compassion to the man who took away part of his
life and Ricky was transformed by the gift of forgiveness.

Greg Chow
An othopedic surgeon serving both countries, Dr. Greg Chow vowed to help
heal and bring about forgiveness for Iraq and America following 9/11. Dr.
Chow subsequently signed up with the Army Reserve and was recently deployed
to Iraq to attend to the medical needs of those in need.

Amy Mizuno
Her internment experience during World War II did not make her bitter,
instead Amy Mizuno demonstrated a powerful and resilient spirit of
forgiveness that has prompted her to activively engage in numerous projects
such as teaching in Harlem and the detention home here in Hawaii.

Gloria Tumbaga

Gloria Tumbaga is a medical surgical nurse who was able to survive and thrive through a childhood of remarkable challenges. Forgiveness was and continues to be a daily aspect of Gloria’s life. As a former foster youth and alumni of the Casey Family Programs, she continues to “give back” to the community which has nurtured her to become a successful and self-sufficient woman. Gloria also has volunteered her nursing skills at a clinic for new immigrants in Hawaii and on a medical mission to provide free medical services to indigent people in the Philippines, and will soon be going on another medical mission to Laos.

Dr. Jerry Chang

A special honor will be made for the late Dr. Jerry Chang for his contribution toward peace and forgiveness. Chang, who died on June 24, 2004 was a former Vice-President of the East-West Center and local coordinator of the Cooperation Circles for Peace for the United Religious Initiative. Chang also founded and served as president of Humanity United Globally, a nonprofit he endowed to promote international youth concerts and information events; he founded the World Vision Youth Ambassadors program, which brought 50 youths from 50 different countries together for training and study. Chang was also a leader in interfaith efforts. A member of the Interfaith Open Table, Chang started the Hawai'i chapter of Habitat for Humanity in 1988.

Hawaii Forgiveness Project