Since the inception of this website I have made it a tradition to share my Memorial Day adventures with my readers. What began as an attempt to bring some normalcy back into my life (2011 Memorial Day), has turned into consistent material for my blog writing. It is also a wonderful opportunity to show pictures of the cemetery in all its star-spangled glory.
Once again, the Maui County Veterans Council put on a wonderful Memorial Day ceremony upcountry. Hosted at the Maui Veterans Cemetery, also known as Makawao Veterans Cemetery, located just off of Baldwin Avenue below Makawao Town, the cemetery comes alive every Memorial Day in a big way. Hundreds of people converge on this beautiful spot of land on Memorial Day to honor and remember those who served our country in the armed forces.
This year the Master of Ceremony was Bo Mahoe, a member of the Moloka’i Veterans Koa Kohiko, who did an outstanding job facilitating the day’s proceedings. Mr. Mahoe was able to inject humor in appropriate places while continually shuffling the program when needed to ensure things went as smooth as possible.
The speakers on Monday included Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa, a letter from Hawaii Senator Mazie Hirono, Janna Hoehn (an amazing woman who has made it her mission to acquire a photograph for every soldier listed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial), retired Navy Chief Warrant Officer Tony Alleyne and the keynote speaker for the day, Colonel Kenneth Hara, Deputy Adjutant General of the Hawaii National Guard.
During Mayor Arakawa’s speech, a helicopter approached from behind him and hovered above the cemetery until he finished speaking. This was for the flower drop. The helicopter dropped thousands of plumeria flowers from high above and scattered beautiful plumeria, of all colors, throughout the entire cemetery.
All of the speakers spoke of what Memorial Day meant to them on a personal level. They all encouraged the crowd to take the time to share the meaning of Memorial Day with the younger generations. Unlike last year, a voting year, politics were not mentioned in the speeches, thank goodness.
Following the speeches, a list of Maui veterans buried in the cemetery this past year was read aloud. After all the names were recited, the Army National Guard’s Honor Guard performed a twenty-one gun salute, and taps was played by a lone trumpet.
After the closing prayer and the retiring of colors by the honor guard, the crowd moved out from under the pavilion and meandered amongst the white marble headstones and brass name plates. I took a few moments to walk around, take a few pictures and reflect on the events before I left the cemetery.
Until next year’s remembrance.
“Our debt to the heroic men and valiant women in the service of our country can never be repaid. They have earned our undying gratitude. America will never forget their sacrifices.” – President Harry S. Truman