With flower wreaths and moments of silence, hundreds gather to honor fallen servicemembers

How dignitaries and the public honored service members who made the ultimate sacrifice
Published: May. 29, 2023 at 7:29 PM HST|Updated: May. 29, 2023 at 11:40 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A fresh flower lei and American flag adorned every grave at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific on Monday in a gesture of aloha to the nation’s fallen servicemembers.

The cemetery was the somber setting of the mayor’s Memorial Day ceremony — a storied tradition that dates back to 1948.

The audience joined the sounds of the Aloha Chorus and the historic Royal Hawaiian Band in singing the “Star Spangled Banner” and “Hawaii Pono I.”

Cadets with the education department’s JROTC programs and the Hawaii National Guard Youth Challenge Academy lead the pledge of allegiance.

In his remarks, Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi expressed his appreciation for all who wear the uniform — past and present.

He says the world is in turmoil and mentioned the ongoing war in Ukraine as an example of how fragile freedom and democracy are.

“The threats facing our globe today are not just legitimate. They are a daunting reality. This very place embodies that risk,” Blangiardi said.

“It embodies the lengths to which the men and women who serve our country and the men and women who have given their lives for our country willingly goes in service of liberty and justice for all.”

Different organizations, agencies, and veterans groups presented dozens of wreaths.

Many people also paused for a moment of reflection.

The event’s keynote speaker was Adm. John C. Aquilino, the 26th commander of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command.

He says while we never fully repay those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, we can honor their legacies by making the most of the freedom and opportunities that they left us.

“We can use our talents and abilities to enrich the lives of all around us. And by keeping their memory alive through our words and actions, we honor their legacy. And we ensure their sacrifice helps bring about a brighter tomorrow and it’s our responsibility to never forget,” said Aquilino.