By Editorial Board
A Memorial Grove ceremony will be held in the southwest corner of Larned Hall on Nov. 12. During this time, students, faculty and staff “can come together to remember, contemplate, and reflect,” according to an email from Interim Vice President of Enrollment and Student Development Lorretta Holloway.
While this information was sent to students in an email by Holloway, what students may not know is that the ashes of a former student, Asako Mazawa, will be laid to rest in this memorial after nearly three years of being disinterred.
For those of you who do not know the story of Mazawa, she was an international student from Japan who studied history at FSU. She was killed in 1997 in a motorcycle accident.
Mazawa registered as an organ donor while in the United States a mere two months before she would be pronounced brain dead at Boston Medical Center. Mazawa was a daughter. A sister. A 24 year-old senior history major. A member of the FSU family.
She was a young woman who saved the lives of several people, despite knowing her decision to donate her organs – which included her heart, lungs and liver – was an act considered taboo in her homeland of Japan.
Doris Kalohn, who was the recipient of Asako’s liver in 1997, is now 85 years old.
For a time, Mazawa was honored on this campus. Two years after her death, the administration constructed a memorial garden in her name and a portion of her ashes, brought from Japan by her parents, were buried beneath the soil. The burial site was marked with a commemorative placard.
In the 1999 addition of “The Dial,” FSU’s yearbook, it was written, “This garden will forever preserve her memory.”
Unfortunately, the administration could not uphold this wish. The garden was dismantled fourteen years later during the construction of Hemenway Hall.
Mazawa’s ashes were not placed in any sort of temporary memorial. They were not kept in public. Perhaps they could have placed the container holding her ashes in one of the display cases in Dwight Hall with a picture of her beside it.
Instead, the decision was made to hold them in the office of the vice president of Enrollment and Student Development. While perhaps an acceptable short-term solution, as the months passed by, as two years slipped away, Mazawa’s ashes – and her memory – were forgotten by the FSU community.
We at The Gatepost understand why the administration has decided not to mention Asako in its advertisements for the Memorial Grove Dedication Ceremony. The administration would be reminding this campus community of how they baffingly chose to bury the legacy of a truly astounding hero.
Mazawa’s death occurred nearly two decades ago, but she was still a member of our community, and we, as members of this community, should be aware of what we lost on June 10, 1997.
As in any community, how we honor those we have lost is a reflection of ourselves. This administration has not done right by Asako and her family the past two and a half years. Therefore, they have not done right by this community.
Students, faculty and staff – whether you knew Asako or have never heard of her story before – we at The Gatepost implore you all to attend the Memorial Grove Dedication Ceremony next Thursday, Nov. 12, at 3:30, at the southwest corner of Larned Hall.