The following individuals were honored as Heroes of Forgiveness at the events in Honolulu, August 3, 2008.
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 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?
Our friend Andrew Sato passed away in his sleep early Saturday morning March 1st, 2008.
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.
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.
As he got in I asked the other people to take good care of him, said good-bye and shut the door.
Hawaii Forgiveness Project