Memorial Day is a time to honor those that have made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of our nation. For many, that sacrifice happened right here on Oahu or throughout the Pacific. Add to that historical actuality Hawaii’s high concentration of active duty military members serving throughout the islands, most of whom have served now in time of war, and Memorial Day in Hawaii becomes especially meaningful. Their are many ways that your family can pay tribute to their sacrifices and honor the fallen with events and ceremonies held through the island on Memorial Day.
National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific
Each Memorial Day weekend local Boy Scouts from the Aloha Council decorate every veteran’s grave with U.S. flags and more that 50,000 fresh flower or ti leaf leis hand sewn by local residents and school children. At 8:30 a.m. on Memorial Day, the Mayor of Honolulu will host the Mayor’s Memorial Day Ceremony. Events will include music by the Royal Hawaiian Band, a traditional 21 gun salute, flyovers, and speeches from the Mayor and other dignitaries. Parking is limited. The City and County of Honolulu will provide special bus service to the cemetery for the Memorial Day ceremony from the Punchbowl city bus stop on Route 15, Makiki/Pacific Heights, on Memorial Day. Free parking will be available at the Frank F. Fasi Municipal Building garage (near Honolulu Hale) for motorists boarding buses at the nearby Alapai Transit Center. Pick up at the transit center will be from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m.
Ceremonies to honor fallen service members will also be held at the Schofield Barracks Post Cemetery 10:00 a.m. and at the Hawaii State Veterans Cemetery at 1:00 p.m. on Memorial Day.
World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument
To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the USS Arizona Memorial and to recognize Memorial Day 2012, World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument will be hosting a number of special events. These will begin on Friday, May 25 and conclude on the evening of Monday, May 28. Events include a golf tournament on May 25 to raise funds for restoration of the memorial and a Marine Corps Honor Guard will stand vigil in the shrine room from May 26 through Memorial Day. On Memorial Day, every ticket holder will get a flower and a commemorative card and be allowed to participate in a special floral tribute during their visit to the memorial. While there, it would also be a great time to visit the USS Bowfin, USS Missouri, and the Pacific Aviation Museum on nearby Ford Island! The Pacific Aviation Museum is offering free admission for military members and their families on Memorial Day!
(photo courtesy of www.lanternfloatinghawaii.com)
Annual Shinnyo-en Hawaii’s Lantern Floating Ceremony
The Annual Lantern Floating Hawaii Ceremony will take place on Memorial Day at Ala Moana Beach Park. More than 3,000 candle-lit lanterns bearing individual and community remembrances and prayers will illuminate the ocean. The event brings together more than 40,000 Hawaii residents and visitors from around the world and from various cultures and traditions who cast afloat lanterns at sunset in remembrance of loved ones who have passed, or as symbolic prayer for a harmonious and peaceful future. The theme of this years Lantern Floating Hawaii is "Many Rivers, One Ocean."
The 90 minute ceremony and program will commence at 6:00 p.m. with special performances by the Brothers Cazimero; Raiatea Helm; Shinnyo Taiko; Halau Ka Liko Pua O Kalaniakea with chanters Pualani Kanahele, Kekuhi Kanahele and Kaumakaiwa Kanaka‘ole; and Shinnyo-en Shomyo Choir. Also included throughout the program are videos that explain the lantern floating tradition in Japan and offer personal reflections of the experience.
At 7:00 p.m., Her Holiness Keishu Shinso Ito, Head of Shinnyo-en, will address the crowd with a speech, followed by the lighting of the Light of Harmony. After the lighting of the Light of Harmony, the lanterns will be launched onto the waters of the Pacific Ocean at Magic Island by participants of the program and the general public. Those attending the ceremony may choose to float their own lantern, or write their remembrance or prayer on special paper that will be placed on on collective remembrance lanterns to be floated by volunteers.
The Lantern Request tent will open at 10 a.m. only for those who prefer to write a remembrance on a collective remembrance lantern. Individual lanterns will be available at the Lantern Request tent beginning at 1 p.m. on May 28 on a first-come, first-served basis.
More information and updates about Lantern Floating Hawaii are available on the event website and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/lanternfloatinghawaii. Free event parking is available at the Hawaii Convention Center from 8:30 a.m. until midnight. A complimentary shuttle will transport attendees between the Hawaii Convention Center and Magic Island from 3:00-6:00 p.m. and back to the Convention Center from 8:00-9:30 p.m.