Monday, May 30, 2016

Memorial Day in Hawaii

"A day of thanks for the valor of others - a day to remember the splendor of America and those of her children who rest in this cemetery and others."
Ronald Reagan

Today was Memorial Day. We visited the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific to attended the 67th Annual Mayor's Memorial Day Program with two other senior couples from our mission.

The cemetery is located in Punchbowl Crater. The volcanic crater's Hawaiian name is Puowaina which is most commonly translated as "Hill of Sacrifice."  Historians say the first known use of Puowaina was as an altar where early Hawaiians offered human sacrifices to their gods. In the early 1800's, the crater served as a key stronghold for Oahu natives who tried in vain to defend their island from Kamehameha's invading army. Today the 112-acre cemetery serves as the final resting place for more than 44,200 U.S. war veterans and family members. These include men and women who perished in World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.

The outstanding early morning program lasted about an hour and was attended by many. It was a beautiful and tender tribute to our country's heroes with wonderful speeches by Kirk Caldwell, Honolulu Mayor and ADM Harry B. Harris Jr., Head of the Pacific Fleet. The Sounds of Aloha, a barbershop-type group of male singers, sang several songs. The Royal Hawaiian Band also played. There was a presentation of at least 25 beautiful memorial wreaths from many patriotic groups. There was an F-22 Flyover by the Hawaiian Raptors stationed at Hickam Air Force Base, the playing of "Taps", a three volley rifle salute by the Hickam Honor Guard, and the posting and retiring of the colors. It was a wonderful tribute and an honor to be there.

Monument with state flags lining the stairs.
Utah State Flag

Just a few of the beautiful floral tributes

Every grave was decorated with an American flag and a fresh flower lei that was handmade and donated by many groups throughout the islands. 

There were many different styles of lei - flowers, leaves, etc. Each one was made with reverence and love for those who have been laid to rest here.

Our hearts were touched and our American pride strengthened. We feel a great sense of gratitude and reverence for the men and women, and their families, who have sacrificed to protect our freedom and help to preserve this great nation. I'm proud to be an American. Things are troubled on the political front, but that doesn't diminish my pride and gratitude on this Memorial Day. 

True American Heroes!!! 
Mahalo nui loa!!!

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