Large ceremonies canceled, Hawaii remembers veterans with small Memorial Day gatherings

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Updated: May. 25, 2020 at 1:32 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The big public Memorial Day ceremonies at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific and the State Veterans Cemetery in Kaneohe were absent this year.

Instead, Hawaii marked the day with small wreath-laying ceremonies and somber gatherings.

And in addition to veterans killed in conflicts, many this year are also remembering the nearly 100,000 Americans who have died in the COVID-19 pandemic.

Veterans and nursing home residents have made up a significant portion of the U.S. outbreak’s victims.

Across the country over the Memorial Day weekend, flags are flying at half-staff to honor those lost during the pandemic and a National Moment of Remembrance is set for 3 p.m.

At Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, servicemembers will be firing a 21-gun salute at noon.

And at 3 p.m., a remembrance ceremony at Schofield Cemetery will be livestreamed here.

Today we remember those who gave their lives serving our country. As we honor their memory, let us continue to support their families and friends. #MemorialDay2020

Posted by Governor David Ige on Monday, May 25, 2020

Punchbowl and the Kaneohe veterans cemetery are open to the public Monday.

Last week, the Department of Veteran’s Affairs asked families and visitors to pay their respects either Friday, Saturday, or Sunday, to avoid big crowds on the day of remembrance.

Hawaii marked a somber Memorial Day on Monday, with no crowds or big remembrance ceremonies.
Hawaii marked a somber Memorial Day on Monday, with no crowds or big remembrance ceremonies.(Hawaii News Now)

Those visiting the cemeteries Monday are asked to wear masks and practice social distancing.

And staff members are asking visitors to do their best to “know before you go” and have the grave location of individuals they choose to visit ready.

Staff members will be limiting contact with guests and won’t be able to assist in locating gravesites.

Cemetery staff also planned a small ceremony at 6:30 a.m. Monday that is not open to the public, but was to be posted on the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific “Punchbowl” Facebook page.

There is also a new way to honor fallen veterans that’s perfect for this day in age.

People can visit the Veteran’s Legacy Memorial, an online portal, to see a memorial page for each veteran and service member interred in a VA national cemetery.

You can search by branch of service, war period and location

Other public ceremonies have also been cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Memorial Day Ceremony at Kauai Veterans Cemetery didn’t happen this year, but the cemetery was open for the public to pay their respects to the military members we have lost.

And on Maui, the traditional Memorial Day ceremony at the Makawao Veterans Cemetery is also canceled, though a program honoring military personnel is airing on Akaku throughout the day.

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