HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Call it volunteering for Veterans. Visitors and kamaaina came together to sew a lei for Memorial Day.
Anna Koseki says we owe it to our Veterans. She told us, "My dad is at Punchbowl and if I go there and someone doesn't have a lei, I put one on. It means a lot to me because of my dad and husband."
Three generations of Koseki's family made lei together at Honolulu Hale. Her daughter Jeri Velasco says, "I think it's a special part of Hawaii as we make these flowers representing Hawaii. It's like a gift to each of our fallen soldiers." Koseki's granddaugther Nicole says, "It's a small part we can do to share our aloha for people who have given their lives for our Country."
Every Memorial Day, 50 thousand fresh lei grace Veterans' gravestones at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl.
Army vet Jim Lenz and his wife Susan are visiting from Chicago, but took time out from their vacation to sew lei.
"A lot of places have flags and flowers" explains Jim. "But the lei is such a symbol of Hawaii. When we first went to Punchbowl years ago and saw all the lei on the crosses at that time, we were really impressed."
Susan says, "We love Punchbowl. It's a unique and beautiful place and so Hawaii so we're happy to do this."
Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell calls it a special tradition. " I don't think anywhere else do we have people gather from all parts of the world to sew lei for people who gave the ultimate sacrifice."
The Mayor thanked all the volunteers. His main message for the City's Memorial Day program is to remember Veterans of all wars and conflicts, but this year, it's extra personal. "For me personally, another message is Senator Inouye who's buried in Punchbowl" explains Mayor Caldwell. "First Memorial Day to honor him so that's going to be very moving for us."
LEI SEWING VOLUNTEERS NEEDED:
The State of Hawaii Department of Agriculture is holding a lei sewing event tomorrow, Saturday May 25th from 9am to 2pm at the Plant Quarantine Branch on 1849 Auiki Street.
LEI DROP OFF LOCATIONS AND TIMES:
Call the Department of Parks and Recreation at 768-3002
MEMORIAL DAY PROGRAM DETAILS:
The Mayor's Memorial Day ceremony starts at 8:30 AM on Monday morning. The public is invited, but parking is limited and we're told security will be extra tight this year. A special bus service to Punchbowl is available. You can park at the Fasi Civic Center garage, then board buses at the Alapai Transit Center. There are 5 departure times scheduled. 7, 7:10, 7:25, 7:40, and 8.