Hawai'i Forgiveness Heroes

The following individuals were honored as Heroes of Forgiveness at the events in Honolulu, August 3, 2008.

Brenda Adelman

Brenda Adelman is an actress and playwright living in Los Angeles.

Growing up in Brooklyn in a seemingly happy family...a dark secret was hidden. Her father was abusive and homicidal, and shot her mother to death.

He was tried and found guilty, but served only two years before being released in a plea bargain...which her brother approved. Soon thereafter, her father married her mother's sister.

After years of anger, silence and alienation, she chose forgiveness.

She reports: "I took one of his fedora hats, typical Brooklyn. I went to the top of a mountain, read a forgiveness poem and threw his hat over. It was such an amazing release. Something opened for me, and I closed what needed to be closed."

Today Brenda teaches forgiveness, and wrote a searing, heart-warming one-woman play, "My Brooklyn Hamlet."

Henri Landwirth

Henri Landwirth is an Auschwitz survivor.

He grew up a happy boy in Belgium, but when he was 13 the Nazis took away his family; they took away his name, assigned him a number -- and shipped him to concentration camp.

He survived for five years in five different camps, including Auschwitz. When he was 18, he got out...spared from a firing squad at the last moment. His entire family except his sister had been exterminated.

He was consumed by hate, for 30 years. Unable to function, paralyzed by his anger...he reports that one day, it just all dissolved. He found forgiveness.

He became a successful businessman in Florida, starting successful hotels and resorts, and was close friends with the American astronauts as they were launched into orbit, and ultimately to the moon, from Cape Kennedy.

Henri started an organization called "Hate Hurts" -- teaching forgiveness, tolerance and non-violence. This group reaches out to thousands of young people, inspiring them to live their lives in love.

If Henri Landwirth can forgive the Nazis, who killed 11 million people and attempted genocide across Europe -- what can we not forgive?

Andrew Sato

Our friend Andrew Sato passed away in his sleep early Saturday morning March 1st, 2008.
This was something we were expecting but hoping would delay due to our hopes and prayers. Andrew's body had been ailing as it was overcome by the leukemia that he was diagnosed with when he was 9 years old. Andrew had was weak and tired but also had a lot of pain management medication to help so that he was able to go as peacefully as possible.
I have tried to relay what a special young man Andrew was in the last few months, but would like to impress upon you one more time just how special, powerful and inspirational he was. Andrew never complained and never asked for anything for himself. He was kind, gentle, open-minded and loving toward all people, young and old, and had a special place in his heart to reach out to other foster children that had no legal parents.
Andrew's last day is a testament to his strength, courage and desire to impact others. His weakness was obvious and he was given the option constantly to go home, cut short any activity, or delay, postpone. Andrew chose to accomplish each activity to the full.
I picked up Andrew in a brand new red Ford Mustang convertible; this was the last wish that needed to be accomplished -- to ride in a sportscar. He got up a 6am to go with me to KHON 2 to be on the morning show so he could say "Thank You" to the community for all the love and support he received. Kirk Matthews had made space for him on with only a few hours notice and also did the interview. Afterward, we stopped to get some fruit juice and then he went home to lay down for a couple hours.

At 11am,  I again picked him up in his sporty chariot with his legal guardian mom to go to the State Capitol where the entire State Senate convened on the main floor to officially commend Andrew for inspiring the State with his story, courage and strength. Surrounded by friends and supporters, Andrew was able to bask in the affection of hundreds, took many photos and the event was filmed. He again went home to relax for the last event: a party in his honor at Planet Hollywood.
A 70's style fashion party had been planned and Andrew had spent the preceding days with all the various members of his house playing dress-up and shopping for outfits for this party. He smiled so many times.

At 7pm we pulled up to the red carpet at Planet Hollywood in the red Ford Mustang with the top down. Guests started showing and taking pictures with him immediately. At the party, he was surrounded by more than 100 guests that wanted to show their love and affection for Andrew. Community groups danced for him, they sang songs to him. There was a fashion show, music and food.

I had planned on Andrew only staying a short while and told him I wanted to take him home at 9 pm. When that time came, he refused to go and wanted to stay to soak in more of the energy. He looked so tired, but he refused to go. We let him stay for another hour. Then we took him outside to wait for the limo that would take him home. While he waited, a small youth community group from Waipahu sang various soft songs of Aloha to Andrew.  He laid his head on my wife's shoulder he closed his eyes and smiled.
I helped Andrew into the limo at about 10:30 and as I braced his body with my own in a hugging fashion he said in my ear, "Thank you David. Thank you for everything." That's how he was, always appreciative, considerate, grateful. I replied "Of course, Andrew, it was nothing." I assured him that I would support his body as I lowered him into the car, "I got you brother, I got you. Relax."

As he got in I asked the other people to take good care of him, said good-bye and shut the door.
from the dedication by David Louis

Hawaii Forgiveness Project