Here are the stories of 7 people who lit a lantern at Ala Moana for a lost loved one

More than 50,000 people are expected to attend this year's lantern floating ceremony on...
More than 50,000 people are expected to attend this year's lantern floating ceremony on Memorial Day. (Image: Lantern Floating Hawaii)
Updated: May. 29, 2017 at 8:46 PM HST
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Tens of thousands gathered at Ala Moana Beach Park on Monday for the annual Lantern Floating ceremony to remember loved ones lost.

Here are the stories of seven people who came out -- and who they came to commemorate.

'She is gone'

— Phuong Vo attended the Lantern Floating ceremony in honor of her grandmother, who she was incredibly close to. Vo recalled vivid memories of her grandmother's laugh while she decorated one of thousands of lanterns to float over the ocean on Memorial Day. The event gave Vo a way to connect with her grandmother, who she often longs for. "I think why isn't she home, she should be home," Vo said. "Oh right, she is gone. I miss her, I want her back."

'He will love us forever'

— Joyce Omine attended the Lantern Floating ceremony with her friend, Tokie Taira, who lost her husband a year ago. "We all miss him and he will love us forever," Taira said. Omine, meanwhile, lost her 105-year-old mother days ago. Unsure if she should even send a message before the planned funeral Friday, Omine decided her message "will be guiding her." She also had a message for her father, "Look out for mom cause she is on her way."

'I miss him'

— Edward Mcaskill and Donna Quach made sure to visit Oahu for Memorial Day to honor fallen veterans. Quach, a member of California's active reserve, said she wanted to honor 11 of her fallen officers at the Lantern Floating ceremony. "Remembering our soldiers who fought for our country, died for it, to give us the things we are able to do," Quach said. Mcaskill, a retired Air Force airman, was remembering his uncle at the ceremony. "I miss him," he said, choking back tears.

'Dear mom, you left us beautiful memories'

— "I knew someday I would find myself here with a personal story," said Jonhny Mottola, who has attended the ceremony as an observer. This year, though, he came out for his mother, who died of liver cancer at 83 in September. The ceremony is an emotional experience for Mottola, who remembers his mother every day. "Dear mom, you left us a beautiful memories, your love is still our guide," he said. "God saw you tired when a cure was not to be had, he wrapped you in his arms and whispered 'come to me.' You didn't deserve what you went through so he gave you a needed rest."

'We are here, we are alive'

Dexter Bajarin has come out to the Lantern Floating ceremony for 18 years. "When the sun goes and we start letting the lanterns out … its magical," Bajarin said, adding, "It's so much more special out on the water." Bajarin said no ceremony is exactly alike. The camaraderie keeps him coming back to the event, but it's the memory of his parents that guides him. "It's happy, it's sad. We are here, we are alive and every year it's different," he said.

Digital content interns Lillian Donahue and Cheyanne Mumphrey compiled these stories.

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