Maui marked the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks with a tribute on the shoreline at Kaanapali where 2,966 flowers were scattered at sea - one for each victim - and sign waving by high school students in Lahaina on Tuesday.
Flags across the island and state were flown at half-staff Tuesday by order of President Barack Obama and Gov. Neil Abercrombie in observance of Patriot Day and the National Day of Service and Remembrance.
On a packed beach fronting the Westin Ka'anapali Ocean Resort Villas, a tribute was held for the victims and first responders of the terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center towers and at the Pentagon and in a plane that eventually crashed in Pennsylvania.
Oregon visitor Patty Wilder wipes away tears after taps was played on Kaanapali beach while 2,966 flowers were scattered in the ocean, one flower for each victim. “We’re pretty personal about stuff like this,” said her husband, David Wilder. The tribute was held on the beach fronting the Westin Ka‘anapali Ocean Resort Villas.
The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo
Anthony Natividad played "Amazing Grace" on his nose flute, and 2,966 flowers were scattered in the ocean as taps played.
First responders in attendance were invited to paddle out with volunteer crews from Lahaina Canoe Club and Maui Paddle Sports for the flower ceremony. Open seats were filled by visitors and guests.
One of those to volunteer was Channie Raring, a visitor from Coto De Caza, Calif., who didn't let the fact that she could not swim stop her.
"Of course it made me cry," she said. "I was thinking of all of them and all their spirits. I can't swim, but my son is a fireman and something just came over me. It was a really incredible experience."
About half of those attending Tuesday's second-annual event appeared to be visitors, some wearing T-shirts with slogans like, "United we stand . . . Together we respond" and "Cleveland Fire."
Makalapua Kanuha, Westin Ka'anapali Ocean Resort Villas cultural specialist, said that the tribute on the beach was a continuation of what was started last year, when word came down from the corporate offices that every Starwood property was going to mark the 10th anniversary of the attacks.
While thinking about how to give a fitting tribute last year, she realized that a Hawaiian ceremony would be proper if done right. She reached out to west side kupuna for guidance, as well as to canoe paddlers and others.
"What inspired me was doing the right thing, being pono," Kanuha said.
After last year's event, it was decided that the day should be marked annually.
"Although we all come from many different places, we all come together in this one place as an ohana," Kanuha said. "It is about truly living the Hawaiian values of lokahi, unity and to never forget."
One of the firefighters who attended the tribute was Lahaina Capt. Kelan Puaa. The captain gave credit to the first responders who sacrificed their lives while trying to save others. They were men and women who were just doing their jobs, he said.
"Who would have done anything different?" Puaa asked. "That's the way you do business. They went and did their job, and unfortunately they didn't come out. Every last one of them, they went in and did what they were supposed to do."
Firefighters at the Kahului Fire Station lined up and held a ceremony Tuesday to remember their fellow first responders and victims who perished that day 11 years ago.
Maui's youth also marked the day. The Lahainaluna High School Student Council staged its 11th annual "Rally For America" with 200 students and staff lining Honoapiilani Highway fronting the Lahaina Cannery Mall waving flags and patriotic posters and banners.
"It's our way of remembering those who lost their lives on that tragic day in American history, as well as honor those who were the heroes and those in our military who continue to protect our freedom,"said Student Activities Coordinator Art Fillazar.
* Managing Editor Lee Imada contributed to this report. Matthew Thayer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.