Preparations underway for in-person Memorial Day ceremony at Punchbowl

Preparations underway for Memorial Day ceremony at Punchbowl
Published: May. 28, 2022 at 6:33 PM HST|Updated: May. 29, 2022 at 9:32 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Several Memorial Day commemorations are planned for this Monday to honor our fallen heroes. At the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific Saturday, preparations were underway for the mayor’s ceremony — the first in person in over two years.

“Just being here in this hallowed ground, as well as working together with my fellow troop members, it is a real honor,” said Virgil Lin, who is helping with the Mayor’s Memorial Day ceremony. “This is really a direct reflection of the service us as individuals and us as scouts do for our state and our nation.”

Several volunteers and members of the Boy and Girl Scouts of America donated and helped sew lei for all 38,000 graves at the cemetery.

“We’ll be placing American flags on all the graves placing that lei around that American flag, saying the name of that service member and saluting them,” said Nate Serota, spokesperson for Honolulu Parks and Recreation. “It really kind of brings the experience home and humanizes it.”

“Once you continue to say the name of that veteran, that veteran will never die because he’s been remembered,” said Gene Maestas, of Punchbowl Public Affairs.

”And it’s very important to teach that to the to the youngsters of America, so that they understand the sacrifice these individuals went through so that they can enjoy the freedoms that they enjoy today.”

“We just want to do a small part to honor them,” said Ty Sunahara, who is a member of Troop 49, which set a goal of donating 1,000 lei to the cause.

His son Jason said, “This is a very honorable day. And it’s very important. A lot of people don’t really recognize it that much. But honestly, it’s just it’s been a big part of our lives.”

Laura Staley and her mom Elizabeth donated 31 lei this year -- they’ve sewn lei for the event for 16 years -- a family tradition.

“It’s part of us,” said 93-year-old Elizabeth Staley.

Daughter Laura adds: “It’s important to remember and honor everyone who has played any part in taking care of our country, our military, our spouses, or children of the military, and all the other people who contribute to keeping us safe.”

Boy Scouts will place a lei on each grave starting at 1 p.m. Sunday. The Punchbowl ceremony begins at 8:30 a.m. Monday. Parking is limited. Bus service will be provided to Punchbowl from the Alapai transit center. Visitors can also park at Lincoln Elementary School and Stevenson Middle School.

The Girl Scouts of America will place lei on graves at the Hawaii State Veterans Cemetery in Kaneohe starting at 10 a.m Sunday. The governor’s ceremony takes place there at 10:30 a.m. Monday.

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