City prepares for return of in-person Memorial Day ceremony at Punchbowl

Mayor Rick Blangiardi, a number of special guests, and veterans will be on hand for Monday morning's ceremony.
Published: May. 23, 2022 at 5:37 PM HST|Updated: May. 23, 2022 at 5:50 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - As Memorial Day approaches, the city and officials at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl are making preparations to once again honor veterans in person.

For the last two years, the pandemic sidelined Punchbowl’s annual Memorial Day ceremony.

But this weekend, thousands are expected to visit the hallowed site.

“All of us who are working here at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific are veterans and we get it,” said Gene Maestas, the cemetery’s public information officer. “So this is a very special day for us as well.”

Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi, other special guests, and scores of veterans will be on hand for Monday morning’s ceremony.

Due to limited parking, the city will provide bus service to Punchbowl from the Alapai transit center.

For those planning to visit a gravesite, cemetery officials advise doing so this weekend or after Monday morning’s event.

“There are gonna be people here who are visiting gravesites of their loved ones,” Maestas said.

“We still want to maintain a serene and very peaceful environment for them, but we also understand people want to come here for the first time and look at the memorial and want to come and honor the veterans themselves.”

The city is seeking donations of fresh lei to place on Punchbowl’s 38,000 gravesites.

Those interested can either make a lei at home and drop it off or participate in several lei sewing events this Friday around Oahu.

“We really need as much community help on this as possible because it is a large effort and really it’s a uniquely Hawaiian way of showing gratitude for those who came before us and to those who sacrificed,” said Nate Serota, Parks and Recreation spokesman.

A full list of lei drop off sites and sewing events can be found by clicking here.

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