Today, I attended a ceremoy at the National Memorial Cemetary of the Pacific at Punchbowl, commemorating the fallen US service members, past and present, who endured the ultimate sacrifice to protect our freedom.
It was my first time at the National Memorial Cemetary of the Pacific and I wouldn't have chosen a better day than Memorial Day to spend my time, attending such a meaningful event.
I had a chance to not only see Senator Daniel Inouye and Mayor Mufi Hanneman speak, but I also met a number of war veterans, including a purple heart recipient. The speeches I heard today were also touching and would quickly soften the hardest of hearts. As I was snapping a man's photo, he commented, "Wow, this is some really heavy stuff." I agreed with him.
I can't say that I didn't shed a tear when Mufi Hanneman read a poem about the pain a mother of a soldier endures, as her son pays the ultimate sacrifice for his country.
I asked to take his photo and he was extremely gracious. I said "Thank you. Thank you so much!" and he responded, "Thank you!"
When I had first entered the cemetary, I noticed US flags and flowers everywhere. The boy scouts placed flags and flower leis at each grave, while the girl scouts also did the same at the State Veteran's Cemetary. When a flower shortage was announced recently, many throughout Hawaii also purchased leis and helped string flowers together to place leis on the graves of each fallen service member, so that there would be enough. It was touching to hear and a beautiful sight to see.
During the event, wreaths are also layed.
Before the commemoration ceremony ended, the Hickam Air Force Honor Guard did the 21-Rifle Salute. Afterward, the thundering sound of four Hawaii Air National Guard F-15s came from behind, shooting through the sky, as on-lookers gazed upward to view the Missing Man Formation.
There was singing from the Pearl City High School Choir, the Honolulu Boy Choir, while the Royal Hawaiian Band also played during the event.
Once the colors were retired, the ceremony came to an end. Group photos began among many of the foreign military and dignitaries who were present. Senator Daniel Inouye and Mayor Mufi Hanneman both took photos for photographers and/or attendees wanting a picture.
I wish I did my hair and dressed a little nicer because I had no idea I would be asked to be in a photo or two! Instead, I am now in two photos wearing shorts and a T-shirt with crazy wind blown hair. I'm just a random girl, holding a camera, standing next to a Laotion military man, so I hope these photos never resurface because I look terrible.
There were also a number of news stations filming the event and interviewing veterans. If only I had a television hooked up, I could watch the news.
After seeing the ceremony today, I strongly feel that more people should support the Memorial Day events throughout the islands. If there's anything to be learned, a service member should always be welcomed home. The scars will never heal for some, but by attending a Memorial Day event, I am sure it will truly mean a lot to those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice. It's the least we can do to show our support, especially on Memorial Day.