LIHU‘E — The current COVID-19 safety and health guidelines and rules did not deter individuals and groups from celebrating Monday’s Memorial Day early.
Donna Lynn Loo, Kaua‘i Retired Senior and Volunteer Program director, said she personally has relatives at the Kaua‘i Veterans Cemetery, and plans to visit the cemetery because it is Memorial Day. Many other members participating in the Kaua‘i RSVP program and Hawai‘i Government Employees Association share similar situations.
After learning that the Kaua‘i Veterans Council scrubbed plans for the annual Memorial Day service and other community groups involved in the annual service followed suit, the Kaua‘i RSVP and HGEA became determined to create lei for the headstones in the Hanapepe cemetery.
“This is something we can do even following COVID-19 rules and guidelines,” Loo said. “A lot of the members came forward to help, too. We might not be able to make enough lei for the 2,500 graves in the cemetery, but we’re going to make as many as we are able to.”
Combining with the HGEA and other community groups who joined the effort, Loo said the Kaua‘i HGEA and some Kaua‘i RSVP members plan to visit the cemetery Sunday to place lei on the graves. This is an opportunity to enjoy the no-face-masks-outdoors ruling announced by Gov. David Ige during a Tuesday press conference.
“This is something I’d like to do,” said Kaua‘i RSVP volunteer Marga Goosen after learning about the collaborative effort while volunteering at the Kaua‘i Community College commencement two weeks ago. “I’ve never done lei before, but I can learn, so I called Grace Delos Reyes (of the county Agency on Elderly Affairs) to find out when we were going to do this.”
Goosen was joined by another newcomer to lei making, Sue Fuetz, who did not hesitate in performing the public-service pr0ject.
“There are some volunteers who are making lei at home,” Loo said. “The Girl Scouts are collecting lei from schools that made lei, and the HGEA members gather after work to make lei at the HGEA headquarters. I’m supposed to meet Juno Apalla of the (KCC) Kaua‘i Performing Arts Center curbside to get lei she made at home and will be dropping off before she goes to a meeting.”
Aida Cruz, in communication with the Hawai‘i Army National Guard, confirmed there will be no ceremony at the Kaua‘i Veterans Cemetery.
“However, the cemetery will be dressed for the occasion,” Cruz said. “Scouts of America (formerly Boy Scouts) will be putting out the flags, and several organizations will be placing lei. The Kaua‘i Veterans Council are honoring our veterans by doing a golf tournament.”
First Sgt. Cory Soares of the Hawai‘i National Guard said the Kaua‘i Military Honors Team will be conducting a rifle volley Monday at 8:30 a.m. at the cemetery to show its gratitude and respect.
Mary Lardizabal, scoutmaster of Troop 168 out of Immaculate ConceptionChurch, said Cubs and Scouts plan to continue their tradition of placing flags on graves Saturday starting at 8 a.m.
Lardizabal said the Scouts plan on putting flags on graves at Immaculate Conception Church, the Immaculate Conception Church Cemetery, Kaua‘i Memorial Gardens & Funeral Home, the Lihu‘e County Cemetery and, if any flags are left over, the Kalapaki cemetery. Troop 168 also performed cleaning at the Kaua‘i Veterans Center as part of its continued volunteer service.
Additionally, the Troop 168 Scouts will be helping with the Memorial Day Weekend golf tournament scheduled for Sunday at the Hokuala Golf Club, and will be hosting a ceremony for Christian Lardizabal at the Kaua‘i Veterans Center for the mural he created for his Eagle Scout project.
Other events relating to Memorial Day include the U.S. Air Force Band of the Pacific’s music ensemble, “Small Kine,” performing during its community-outreach tour that includes performances at the Coconut Marketplace Saturday at 4 p.m., Old Koloa Town Sunday at 3 p.m., and closing with a performance Monday at 3:30 p.m. at the Pau Hana Market at Kukui Grove Center.
Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or firstname.lastname@example.org.