Historical grave desecrated at Hawaiian Mission Houses cemetery

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The desecration of 27 graves at Kawaiahao Cemetery has many in the community outraged, but it’s not the only cemetery recently targeted by vandals.

“This (headstone) was also kicked over at the base. So this was shoved off. It wasn’t necessarily the cross that was shoved off it was this piece,” Neal Hitch explained as he pointed to the three tier base of a grave marker in the Hawaiian Mission Houses cemetery.

He said it was so heavy it took two of them to put the third level of the marker back in its upright position.

Hitch is the executive director of the Hawaiian Mission Houses, right next door to Kawaiahao Cemetery. Two of their grave markers were vandalized on June 25th, a week before the Kawaiahao incident.

Hitch said they even had a witness because it happened at 4:45 in the afternoon.

“This is not in the middle of the night. There’s people leaving work like you can see during the day. There’s lots of people around, its not hidden.”

Unfortunately, no one has been charged.

What’s worse, is one of the damaged graves belong to Levi Chamberlain.

“Levi Chamberlain was the first commercial agent and built the 1831 Chamberlain House that we interpret on our property as one of the two oldest standing houses in Hawaii.”

Hitch said it could cost up to $8,000 to restore the extensive damage to the headstones.

“It’s a cost that we will incur. We do not have a budget to deal with vandalism. We are looking at what some of the options are to cover the cost. We’re may be looking into seeking some foundational support or maybe some member support.”

Because of the age of the stone and historical significance Hitch said they will give it the respect it deserves.

Chamberlain’s marker broke into two pieces, diagonally through the inscription.

“When the marble fell the tip hit (the ground) and broke it in half… The things written on it are significant and it’s part of our interpretation of the missions in the 19th century. So it’s tragic in that sense. It’s a great loss actually. This was set in marble-head stone. Set, intact since 1849 and destroyed in a matter of seconds,” Hitch said.

The base of the marker was also severely damaged.

“Part of the expense of (Chamberlain’s headstone) is this whole base also has to be rebuilt…The way that the concrete has broken looks to me like it was a big effort (to break it) and that it was kicked probably several times before the concrete broke in order for the marble to fall,” Hitch explained.

But Hitch said there is a bright side as he looked around the cemetery.

“We’re lucky in a way that the other ones around it weren’t harmed either.”

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