Hundreds salute fallen soldiers, veterans at Punchbowl ceremony

Published On: May 28 2012 01:53:01 PM HST   Updated On: May 28 2012 12:53:00 PM HST

Under blue skies and the thunderous roar of a morning flyover, hundreds of military veterans, family members and friends honored those who died fighting for our country this Memorial Day at the National Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl

Many came to the annual ceremony to simply pay respect, while for others the day holds a more personal connection.

"I'm here for my brother who was killed in Normandy," said Albert Burn, a retired veteran. "It's an honor for me to be here to pay homage to those that live here."
A shortage in flowers on the island created some concern about finding enough lei to mark each of the 51,000 graves of veterans buried or interned here.

But City & County parks officials said the community once again addressed the call for help.

"Our community is so great," said Al Tufono, Deputy Director of City Parks and Recreations. "When we issued a call for fresh flowers and lei, everyone in our community sewed a lei, donated some flowers to sew a lei, and we met the goal."

Now in its 63rd year, the annual ceremony provided a reminder to all about the sacrifices made by members of the military armed services.

"The silence of Punchbowl is the shouts of those that are buried here, reminding us of our responsibility to live a life of purpose," proclaimed FC2 Ken Wiseman, a trainer of Navy firefighters stationed at Pearl Harbor.

Still, many hope that the day will come when no more soldiers need be interned on those hallowed grounds.

"Let us continue to hope for a more peaceful future," said Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle, addressing the crowd fronting the memorial. "Let us strive to attain that goal, as elusive as it may seem. We owe no less to those whom we honor here today."

Regardless of whether those in attendance chose to strive for peace or to remember those who fought to preserve it, the determination to continue the tradition of saluting those who made the ultimate sacrifice was ubiquitous.

"As we grow older we're going to carry on the tradition of our fathers and forefathers before them," concluded FC2 Wiseman.


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