Kanile’a ‘Ukulele was very fortunate to be part of a heart touching event. Most people know of Joe Souza the Master Luthier, but not too often do our customers get to know Fire Fighter II Joseph N. Souza III from Ladder 17. Joe has been a proud member of the Honolulu Fire Department for over fifteen years. When a colleague of his, Lopaka Ho’opi’i mentioned he wanted something special to present to the Fire Chief of New York City, he and Joe looked at some options. The Honolulu Fire Chief suggested “how about an axe made of Koa wood or a Plaque”? Lopaka and Joe looked at each other and said “How about an ‘ukulele”.
Joe immediately went to the designing process. “I wanted to create an instrument that represented the (Honolulu Fire) Department, represented Hawaii and clearly showed that we mourned for our fallen loved ones even though we are thousands of miles away”.
During the building process there were many somber moments. “I know we were building something special. Our heart and soul goes into each instrument we build, but for some reason this one was… Very special “!
The completed instrument was presented to the Fire Chief of New York at a special ceremony along with a surf board made by a recruit academy classmate of Joe’s named Jay Rush. Unfortunately Joe was unable to attend the presentation because of a staffing shortage at his station. So Lopaka, along with other members of HFD and the Kamehameha Schools Choir presented the instrument and surf board to the Fire Chief. Lopaka said that members of FDNY told him that their chief had gone to many funerals following the events of September 11th, and he had given countless eulogies, and not once did they see their leader breakdown. When Lopaka presented the instrument, the Chief could not hold back the tears. He was so amazed and grateful for this gift of aloha that traveled so far and represented so much!
The details of this instrument are:
It is a Tenor size four string made of Premium Select Curly Koa for body. On the sound board there is an inlay of the Hawaiian Islands and HFD (Honolulu Fire Department) in Mother of Pearl . The Rosette inlay and binding are Curly Mango. The finger board and bridge is of East Indian Rosewood and has FDNY inlayed in Mother of Pearl. On the headstock we inlayed the number 343 which represents how many Fire Fighters died in the tragedy.