Monday, ‘not just another holiday’

LIHUE — The Kauai Veterans Council will host its Memorial Day observance 10 a.m. Monday at the Kauai Veterans Cemetery in Hanapepe.

“This holiday should not be just another day off from work,” said Aida Cruz, Kauai Veterans Center event coordinator. “People need to take time to remember the sacrifices made by our veterans which allow us the freedom we enjoy today.”

Ed Kawamura, commander of the Kauai Veterans Council and a Vietnam veteran, said his M. Kawamura Farm Enterprises in Pua Loke will be closed Monday because his family will be paying tribute to their ancestors. His son Robert is a veteran.

“Sen. Daniel Inouye, during one of his speeches he delivered here, said ‘Veterans shouldn’t be at the Memorial Day service, They’ll be here. People are the ones who need to be here,’” Kawamura said.

The Kawamura family is no stranger to family members paying the ultimate price. Yoshiko Kawamura, Ed’s aunt, was a Gold Star Mother after losing her son Gary in the Vietnam War.

“We were in Bankok, Thailand waiting for him,” Ed said. “The whole family was there. The next thing we know, Gary’s gone. My aunt folks were traveling in Japan, and people couldn’t get a hold of them to let them know.”

Capt. Bruce Hay, Jr., commander of the Pacific Missile Range Facility at Mana, will be the keynote speaker, and Capt. Jim Hickerson, U.S. Navy, retired, will be the guest speaker.

“He is a great person,” said Stu Burley, leader of the Memorial Day lei project. “He was a prisoner of war and has some great stories.”

Lei for the Memorial Day project poured in from public schools around the island, said Gilbert Cabot of Boy Scout Troop 83 sponsored by the Lihue Hongwanji Mission.

“We had more than a thousand lei,” said Rona Oana, Eleele Elementary School health aide. “There were 15 boxes which got packed in my truck for transport to the Department of Education office for the project.”

Grove Farm Company employees also lent their support to the project after Linda Inouye found out about the lei project several years ago.

“The flower angels did a really good job collecting flowers,” said Marissa Sandblom, a Grove Farm vice president. “We have more lei this year than last year, and the employees had fun with this project.”

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