HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - With rays peeking out in the distance, residents and visitors alike gathered for an Easter sunrise service on the sacred grounds of The National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.
"I think the spirit of the people and the place really warms you and it's really what Easter is about," said Joe Schoenecker, who attended the service for the first time. "Being able to be here and being in a peaceful, tranquil, very, very humble place."
The service has been at the cemetery for the past 112 years. Reverend Sam Domingo has coordinated the event for more than a dozen years and says Punchbowl serves as the perfect venue for Easter's theme of resurrection.
"We are recipients of this gift of God through the raising of Jesus the Christ in our lives and this is the message that we continually live out throughout our lives," Domingo said. "Despite the challenges that we have, the message is still life."
In her sermon, Sister Joan Chatfield discussed the life and teachings of Jesus Christ and how many apply to global problems we face today.
"We live in challenging times," Chatfield said. "North Korea may nuke Hawaii. The world economic picture is as dark as since the Great Depression. There is little we can do as individuals to change any of these great scenarios, but what about Christ's challenge for transition and transformation?"
As it has for decades, the Royal Hawaiian Band gave the service a musical touch while those in attendance joined in prayer and song.
Just a few elements of the timeless tradition.
"It brings together people of all religious denominations and it's a salute and a tribute to how free America is," said Gene Castegnetti, director of the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. "It makes me feel that I'm privileged to be here to be opening the gates every year."
It's a tribute that'll flourish for many sunrises to come.