Build­ing On A Le­gacy Of Com­pas­sion

MidWeek (Hawaii) - - Front Page - By Keoni Wag­ner, board pres­i­dent for Peace Bridge

On Christ­mas Day in 1949, a dozen soldiers from the 27th In­fantry Reg­i­ment, nick­named the Bar­racks, de­ployed in Ja­pan, ac­com­pa­ny­ing a Red Cross field rep­re­sen­ta­tive to an or­phan­age in Osaka called Holy Fam­ily Home.

The soldiers were touched by the harsh post­war con­di­tions in which the or­phans and their nun care­givers sub­sisted be­cause of a se­vere lack of funds. On the reg­i­ment’s next pay­day, the soldiers took up a col­lec­tion and gave the pro­ceeds to the or­phan­age on New Year’s morn­ing.

The plight of the or­phans quickly be­came com­mon knowl­edge in the reg­i­ment, and for the next six months, the Wolfhounds spent their spare time help­ing the sis­ters re­pair the or­phan­age. The soldiers came to know the chil­dren well and be­gan col­lect­ing funds for Holy Fam­ily Home on a reg­u­lar ba­sis.

In 1957, a new tra­di­tion be­gan. The Wolfhounds hosted chil­dren from the Holy Fam­ily Home for a once-in-a-life­time trip to Hawai‘i to ex­pe­ri­ence fam­ily life through home stays with Wolfhound fam­i­lies, and to ex­pe­ri­ence the aloha of the state.

It’s an an­nual tra­di­tion that con­tin­ues to this day.

For more than 60 years — one of the longest-run­ning mil­i­tary/civil­ian re­la­tion­ships in the his­tory of the U.S. Army — the Wolfhounds and other mem­bers of our lo­cal com­mu­nity have per­pet­u­ated this tra­di­tion and forged bonds that have changed the lives of both chil­dren and soldiers.

Peace Bridge I nc., an all-vol­un­teer or­ga­ni­za­tion, was founded in 2007 to carry on the com­mu­nity sup­port for this en­dur­ing tra­di­tion that has be­come a model of com­pas­sion and in­ter­na­tional friend­ship.

Car­ing com­mu­nity part­ners such as Ja­pan Air­lines, United Ja­panese So­ci­ety of Hawai‘i, Bank of Hawai‘i, Mu­seum of Art, Honolulu Zoo, Outrig­ger Ca­noe Club, KoAloha ‘ukule­les, Mene­hune Mac, Poly­ne­sian Cul­tural Cen­ter, Hil­ton La­goon Ac­tiv­i­ties and oth­ers have gen­er­ously con­trib­uted year af­ter year to ac­tiv­i­ties bring­ing vis­it­ing chil­dren and their host fam­i­lies to­gether.

Last year, Peace Bridge in­tro­duced a schol­ar­ship pro- gram to build on the Wolfhound le­gacy by pro­vid­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for chil­dren to pur­sue higher ed­u­ca­tion in Hawai‘i. Thanks to the sup­port of BYU-Hawai‘i, Rib­bon Pro­duc­tions and in­di­vid­ual con­tri­bu­tions, Peace Bridge is host­ing its third schol­ar­ship re­cip­i­ent this sum­mer. For more in­for­ma­tion on Peace Bridge and its mis­sion, visit peace­bridge.org. Hawaii char­i­ta­ble or­ga­ni­za­tions may send re­quests for space in ei­ther Proof Pos­i­tive or the free ad­ver­tise­ment below to bmoss­man@mid­week.com

Soldiers and fam­i­lies of the 27th In­fantry Reg­i­ment gather at the 60th an­nual Holy Fam­ily Home ex­change event.

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