HANAPEPE — Memorial Day, this year being observed on Monday, May 25, is significant in that it is the one day set aside to remember and honor those military men and women who have died in the service to the country, said Mary Kay Hertog, commandant of the Kaua‘i Veterans Council.
“Unfortunately, beause of COVID-19, we cannot have our annual Memorial Day ceremony at the Kaua‘i Veterans Cemetery in Hanapepe this year,” Hertog said.
“Even though we can’t have our usual ceremony, we can still pay our respects to our military members we have lost. The veterans cemetery is open to families, friends and the public for those who want to pay their respect or visit their loved one’s grave sites.”
Memorial Day, while many people look at this day as the unofficial start of summer and a federal, state and county holiday, has different meanings to veterans and their families.
“Memorial Day is a dedication to those who fought and died serving America and its freedoms,” said Jim Jung, chaplain for the American Legion Post 54 in Kapa‘a. “This is a time to pay our respects and gratitude to our fallen warriors. It is a time to salute them and say, ‘Mahalo nui loa.’”
Jung said because people are unable to formally gather at the veterans cemetery to show respect, he suggests a moment of silence as people remain in their homes.
Hertog said some ideas on paying respect include the placement of a lei on one’s mailbox, flying the American flag, and pausing for a moment of silence.
“Sew a Lei for Memorial Day” is the theme of the Mayor’s Memorial Day Poster Contest, presented by Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell and the City &County of Honolulu Department of Parks and Recreation.
Three Kaua‘i students — one from Kapa‘a High School and two from Kaua‘i High School — took the theme to sweep the high school division of the contest that drew hundreds of entries from across the state.
Kaylin Sautter of Kapa‘a High School earned first-place honors for her rendering of a plumeria lei interwoven with military dog tags. Clara Hemke of Kaua‘i High School rendered a lei’d solder saluting to earn second place, and Shanel Erorita, also of Kaua‘i High School, nailed third place in the division with a remembrance photo framed with a lei.
Other Kaua‘i winners included honorable mentions for Ashlee Nagahiro of Kapa‘a, Cassidy Yamauchi of Kaua‘i, Jhanalei Sales of Kaua‘i and Parker Reed of Kapa‘a.
“Even though this year’s Memorial Day Ceremony at Punchbowl has been canceled out of concerns for COVID-19, we encourage everyone to take a moment on Memorial Day to remember those who have sacrificed, and continue to sacrifice, for our benefit,” Caldwell said in a release. “Now, more than ever, we need to recognize and remember our brave first responders and service members who selflessly put their lives on the line to protect us.”
There will be no formal ceremony recognizing the winners of the poster contest, and all Sew a Lei for Memorial Day events are canceled along with the annual Memorial Day ceremonies.
Instead, the City &County of Honolulu and Department of Parks and Recreation will be recognizing the poster-contest winners by sending them prize baskets and certificates of appreciation. The artwork will also be posted on the Department of Parks and Recreation’s dedicated Mayor’s Memorial Day Ceremony website at bit.ly/PunchbowlMemorialDay.
Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or firstname.lastname@example.org.