Monday, January 7, 2013

Unexpected Treasures

I am home from Hawaii, still impressed by the graciousness and cultural pride exhibited by the people I encountered there. Those qualities are treasures in themselves, but here is a (true) story/real-life experience I must share.

On the day I visited the Iolani Palace in Honolulu (the only royal residence in the United States), I also paused to view the statue of King Kamehameha I (1758-1819) who unified the islands now known as Hawaii. Curious about the building behind the statue, my traveling companion/childhood friend and I walked to the door and questioned the man standing there. Immediately, he invited us in--insisted upon it, in fact--and told us it was the Judiciary Building, home of Hawaii's Supreme Court and also the King Kamehameha V Judiciary History Center. 


As he began to give us a personal tour (not his job, as it turns out--he is a law enforcement professional now assigned to this building), we were fascinated with the flow of information and personal insight he appeared to delight in sharing. When we reached the part of the museum dealing with wartime life following Pearl Harbor, I mentioned that, as a writer, I'd love to have some of the information describing various exhibits and speculated as to whether it might be found on the web.

It was then he disappeared for a few minutes and, upon returning, escorted us into the office of the Program Specialist and Education Specialist, both of whom enthusiastically shared sources of information as well as handed me two booklets, including one entitled Hawaii Under Martial Law: 1941-1944. But the story doesn't end there. The Program Specialist escorted us to yet another room and turned on a 20-minute film of first-person accounts by those who had experienced the martial law, specifically internment because of ethnicity. When she returned as the film ended, she handed me a sheaf of papers she'd printed for me--"general orders" of the military government which, I just noticed, was headquartered at Iolani Palace.

I boarded the city bus back to the hotel literally clutching these treasures in a death grip!

How many places anywhere could a total stranger/tourist walk into and be treated with such extraordinary graciousness well above and beyond the "job description" of their professional employees? Not many, I'm thinking.

So, of course, I later sat in the lobby of a Waikiki Beach hotel listening to live music and sketched the beginnings of a story based on what I'd learned and will have learned when I finish absorbing all the fascinating information in the booklets and papers. It just doesn't get any better than this--anywhere!

(Note: The picture appears to be public domain. My apologies if I have used a copyrighted image. I am still trying to transfer my personal photos!)


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