Honoring the dead, caring for the living

Families paused at graves adorned with American flags and reflected on the lives of their loved ones at the Hanapepe Veterans Cemetery during the Memorial Day ceremony yesterday.

The ceremony, called “A Lasting Tribute,” brought together veterans from battles past, families who have lost loved ones and those paying tribute to military service members who have fought for freedom.

“Today gives us time to reflect on how fortunate we are,” Mayor Bryan Baptiste said to the crowd. “Remember we are here because of those who died for us.”

Guest speaker David Iha said Memorial Day is a solemn day of mourning and a day to pay tribute to those killed in the name of freedom.

“Freedom is worth the price,” Iha said. “But we must defend freedom.”

Iha, who grew up in Koloa, remembered what life was like as a young boy in Hawai‘i after the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.

He remembered seeing tanks roll through Kaua‘i and savored the Hershey bars given to him and his family by GIs stationed here.

“In grade school, we brought lei to the graves of those who served,” Iha said. “This simple act brought awareness to Memorial Day.”

We are obligated to take care of our veterans, Iha said.

“What can we do to honor those on Memorial Day?” Iha said. “The best way to honor the dead is to take care of the living.”

A missing in action ceremony was given for Sgt. Sidney K. Kaui.

Kaui served in World War II and was preparing to come home in November 1950 when he was transferred to serve in the Korean War.

In December 1950 at the Battle of the Chosin Reservoir, Kaui went missing in action.

Kaui’s sister, Elsie Kaui Pahida, led local dignitaries and veterans in a wreath ceremony, where wreath and lei were placed at a monument to the missing Kaui.

After being escorted back to her seat, a United States Army soldier presented Pahida with an American flag.

Kaua‘i Veterans Council Commander Eddie Keoho said Memorial Day isn’t just a free day off from work or school.

“Many have lost sight of this day,” Keoho said.

“It’s a day to remember and pay tribute to those people who fought for our country and made freedom possible.”

• Rachel Gehrlein, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 225) or rgehrlein@kauaipubco.

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