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HONOLULU TO CELEBRATE 50 YEAR BOND WITH BRUYERES, FRANCE

 

(Tues., Oct. 4, 2011)—Mayor Peter Carlisle today announced the City will this week commemorate the 50th anniversary of its sister-city relationship with Bruyères, France, which was liberated from Nazi occupation in World War II by soldiers from the U.S. Army's 100th Infantry Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team, many of whom were Hawaii Nisei.

 

Carlisle will hold a commemoration ceremony in the Honolulu Hale courtyard on Thursday, October 6, from 10 am to 1 pm, to honor veterans of the 100th/442nd and dozens of visitors from Bruyères. The ceremony will be open to the public and will feature commemorative speakers, an award presentation, a reception, and music by the Royal Hawaiian Band.

 

"We're very pleased to welcome our good friends from Bruyères," Carlisle said. "Our two communities share a unique history that is truly touching."

 

Two men who were present during the hellish battle for Bruyères later initiated the sister-city relationship after a chance meeting. Wilbert S. "Sandy" Holck, a 442nd veteran from Honolulu, visited Bruyères with his wife Chisato, and their six young children in the late 1950s. Communication was very difficult until Gerard Deschaseaux, a Bruyèran who understood some English, was summoned to meet with the Americans. Holck and Deschaseaux hit it off immediately and they and their families would become lifelong friends.

 

The men worked together to convince their respective city governments to form the Bruyères-Honolulu sister-city relationship, which was officially established in 1961. Holck later served as a member of the Honolulu City Council from 1974 to 1978. He passed away in 1999. Holck's son, Willard Holck, is chairman of the "Bruyères To Honolulu 2011" committee hosting the visiting Bruyèrans. He recalled a historic photo of his father meeting Deschaseaux for the very first time.

 

 "In that moment, I'm in my father's arms and my brother Wilbert stands waist high next to him," he said. "We're just kids. Monsieur Deschaseaux is smiling and is extending his hand in a greeting. After that handshake, they would become lifelong friends, and our respective families have been very close ever since. The sister-city relationship, really, is part of both families. Our fathers created it. Their children continue to perpetuate it."

 

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Media contacts: Mayor's Office, Louise Kim McCoy; Alenka Remic. 768-7798; 768-4249.