Maui senior citizens need your help to carry on a Memorial Day tradition

Senior citizens on Maui are asking for help. They don't have enough lei for all the graves at the veterans cemetery in Makawao.
Published: May. 19, 2023 at 7:15 PM HST|Updated: May. 20, 2023 at 12:45 AM HST
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SPRECKELSVILLE (HawaiiNewsNow) - There are 10 days until Memorial Day and senior citizens on Maui are asking for help.

They don’t have enough lei for all the graves at the veteran’s cemetery in Makawao.

Each year volunteers at Kaunoa Senior Services make thousands of lei for the graves at Makawao Veterans Cemetery for Memorial Day.

This year, they were short on ti leaves, and they need the community’s help.

Their goal is just over 4,000 lei.

“This is for the veterans that we make the lei for because they served our country. So, this is something that we give back,” said Kaunoa Senior Services volunteer Ann Kusunoki.

Kusunoki is one of 60 volunteers who signed up to make lei for Memorial Day this year.

Skippy Hau does it every year to honor his late relatives.

“It reminds me of my dad and my uncles. They were veterans. They’ve all passed now. So, it just kind of reminds me of them. So, every year I come and help make lei for the veterans,” Hau said.

Kaunoa Senior Services has been making lei for the graves at Makawao Veterans Cemetery for Memorial Day for a decade now.

Preparations began months ago.

“It’s a time for us to sit and reflect as we make the lei and weave it with our hands,” said Maui County Senior Services Administrator Ruth Griffith. “It reminds us about all the sacrifices that it took for us to have the freedom to even do this and it’s our honor to do this for the veterans.”

Roy Nakasone, 82, is a Vietnam veteran.

It’s still hard for him to talk about it 57 years later.

“It was not a good time because it was during that time, they were protesting and we never had a good welcome home,” Nakasone said.

Nakasone volunteers for his friends who never came home.

“There’s so many of my comrades, we call them comrades, my fellow soldiers that didn’t come home,” he said as he began to cry. “I’m sorry, I get emotional when I talk about it. I’m fortunate that I came home. So, this is something to show that I appreciate what they did.”

If you would like to help, please bring already-made lei, either ti leaf (16″ before tying) or fresh flower lei, to Kaunoa Senior Services in Spreckelsville next Friday May 26th from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

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