Hawaii Remembers the 9/11 Victims

Paul Putzulu
Paul Putzulu
Renee Lee
Renee Lee

DOWNTOWN HONOLULU (KHNL) -- Tuesday, our country remembers 9/11, a tragedy that forever changed history, six years ago. Here in the islands, Hawaii also stops to honor the victims.

In a ceremony earlier Tuesday at Tamarind Park, Hawaii's first responders and members of the military gathered to pay tribute.

A somber remembrance, marking a national tragedy.

"I remember watching 9/11 as it happened," said Lt. Renee Lee, United States Air Force. "I was actually in Seoul, Korea, and it was nighttime in Korea, and all of a sudden all the television channels were showing all the same things: the horrific images."

Images that have been burned in our collective memory. Lt. Lee grew up in a military family. 9/11 reaffirmed her choice to follow in her dad's footsteps.

"I was still an ROTC (Reserve Officers Training Corps) cadet at the time, and it just strengthened my desire to serve in the military," she said.

9/11 also impacted Hawaii's first responders. Some of their colleagues in New York died saving others.

"They were doing all they could do to help all the innocent people who were involved," said Deputy Chief Paul Putzulu of the Honolulu Police Department. "And just to have the building collapse on them, and give them no opportunities, I mean, it is very, very tragic."

Putzulu also lost a member of his family.

"Well, my brother-in-law worked with Cantor Fitzgerald," he said. "He was in the north tower, the first tower that was hit. And, unfortunately, ever since his passing, there's been a big void in our lives."

While his brother-in-law Michael Collins is no longer here, in many ways his spirit is still alive.

"Mike, we miss you a lot," said Putzulu. "We love you. We still love you, and we're taking care of the family for you."

Collins was 38 years old.

Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann praised the valor of the first responders, saying if a similar tragedy were to hit Hawaii, he has no doubt our men and women on the front lines will be able to respond to it with speed and courage.