HANAPEPE — Capt. Mark Darrah, commander of the Pacific Missile Range Facility at Mana, was impressed with the Hanapepe Veterans Cemetery.
Earlier in the morning, Boy Scout Kevin Ikeda had his arms full of American flags that were destined to be placed at each of the grave markers for the annual Memorial Day service yesterday.
“This (cemetery) is the story of those who built our nation,” Darrah said in his opening remarks at the service that was hosted by the Kaua‘i Council Navy League of the United States and the Kaua‘i Veterans Council.
Ikeda was one of four Boy Scouts and two Cub Scouts from Troop and Pack 83 that were joined by their leaders and parents in trying to get the cemetery spruced up with the American flags and lei in time for the annual service.
Gilbert Cabot, one of the Boy Scout leaders, explained that normally there would be several troops on hand for the task, but this year, due to the change in dates, the other troop called to say they couldn’t make it.
But the Boy Scouts had reinforcements as veterans who arrived early for the service answered the call and joined them in making sure that the graves were properly adorned for the service.
Jasmine Ikeda of Girl Scout Troop 950 was the lone Girl Scout. “I’m here because of my brother Kevin (who’s in Troop 83). I’m just helping,” she said as she placed flags.
Traditionally, the Boy Scouts spend the weekend sprucing up the veterans cemetery for the service, and on Saturday, were on hand en masse to power wash the gravestones.
Ed Kawamura came home from O‘ahu where he is part of the Lantern Floating Ceremony at the Ala Moana Beach Park.
“I catch a plane back as soon as the service is over,” he said. “My daughter, my son, my family is involved in the
lantern floating. Yesterday, they had a special service that covers all disasters involving water. I went to that, but came home for this.”
Pat and Clem Quel of the Hawai‘i Army National Guard spent some time at the grave of Pat Quel’s brother before joining the congregation inside the pavilion where the services were held.
Major Victor Aguilar’s voice was hoarse from the viral bug he has been battling, but led members of the Waimea High School Junior ROTC color guard and saber unit.
“I can sing, but I can’t hear, and when I swallow, it hurts,” said Jenny Ueno, who was slated to present the Hawai‘i state anthem during the program. She, too, was battling a virus as well as allergies, but trooped forward with her duty.
Members of the Waimea High School jazz ensemble provided the music, and Marty Amaro of Kaua‘i Coffee did not have to think twice about brewing more batches of fresh coffee.
Keynote speaker for this year’s service, featuring several hundred people in attendance, was Admiral Ron Hays, United States Navy. Guests, among others, included Waimea High School senior Chris Aguilar who was invited to read his essay that won the U.S. Navy League scholarship for this year.
Added to this year’s schedule of events was the dedication of “The Kaua‘i Veterans Memorial Mural,” a project spearheaded and contributed by Kaua‘i artist Joanna Carolin and her staff at the Banana Patch in Hanapepe.
Created out of glazed ceramic tile, the venture involved several organizations that came together to create the finished mural that filled the central wall of the pavilion.
Twenty-seven Marines and one Navy hospital corpsman who lost their lives in a helicopter accident in Iraq in January 2005 were the inspiration for the mural.
“ ‘The Price of Freedom … In Honor of Those Who Have Served’ is dedicated to the men and women of our Armed Forces who have made the supreme sacrifice in all of our wars in order that our citizens may continue to enjoy their freedom and liberty in peace in a free society,” read a passage describing the aim of the contributing artists in rendering the mural.
A bell toll followed the reading of the names of the fallen heroes. The audience listened in silence as the waning tones were caught up by the wind that swept through the solemn ceremony.
Following the final name, the final toll, a 21-toll pattern drove home the message as each member of the audience was wrapped in their individual thoughts and reflections of those they knew who gave the ultimate sacrifice.
Col. Gregory Boyle, commander of the 3rd Marine Regiment at Kaneohe Bay, O‘ahu, reflected on his personal experiences following the deaths of Marines and Navy personnel under his watch.
“The title of the mural is perfect,” Boyle said. “For our tomorrow, they gave their today.”
• Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or email@example.com