HANAPEPE — Paul Ishida, 9, said he was decorating the graves “to help the church” Sunday at the Hanapepe Veterans Cemetery.
“Look left,” Paul’s dad David said, chuckling. “Look left.”
The youngster paused from his routine of placing greens prepared by his dad, quizzically contemplating his father’s suggestion.
“This is really good,” said David Ishida, a veteran of the United States Air Force and the National Guard. “At least all of the graves will look nice for the Veterans Day service, and it allows us to pay respect to these veterans who have gone ahead of us.”
“Oh yeah,” he said, continuing on with his routine of placing floral tributes at each grave.
Paul and David were part of the Kapaa Hongwanji Mission volunteers who were joined by other members of the Kauai Hongwanji Council in the Lonesome Grave project, where floral tributes were placed in as many graves as possible at the Hanapepe Veterans Cemetery.
The decorations prepare the cemetery for the annual Veterans Day Service starting at 11 a.m. Tuesday, hosted by the Kauai Veterans Council.
The service is traditionally held on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.
“The public is invited to come and pay tribute to the veterans, both living as well as those who left ahead of us,” said Aida Cruz of the Kauai Veterans Center.
Fay Takeishi of the West Kauai Hongwanji said the Lonesome Grave project was initiated by Barbara Funamura, a member of the West Kauai Hongwanji Mission, Koloa Temple, who wanted to remember the Gold Star mothers.
“Originally, we would all plant marigolds in pots,” Tateishi said. “But it was a chore to try and get the flowers blooming at the same time, and eventually, the practice turned into everyone bringing whatever they could so we can decorate the graves.”
Tateishi said the practice was extended beyond the West Kauai Hongwanji to all the Kauai Hongwanji Council to be done the day before Veterans Day.
“Today, a lot of the Kauai Hongwanji Council members are here because it is a day off from work, and we hosted a short service before starting to decorate,” she said. “It was very nice and the weather is perfect.”