Abercrombie reflects on meaning of Memorial Day
On a day when most families headed to the beach to celebrate the unofficial start of summer, Gov. Neil Abercrombie reminded a crowd at the Hawaii State Veterans Cemetery in Kaneohe that Memorial Day is a time to reflect on the sacrifices made by American servicemen and women throughout the ages.
"It's not just about veterans as such, (since) we have a Veterans Day after all," said the governor. "This is called Memorial Day. What exactly is that? What are we memorializing?"
Abercrombie used this year's 60th anniversary of the end of the Korean War to put his own rhetorical questions into context. Of the 33,686 battle deaths during the three-year conflict on the Korean peninsula, the governor said 456 of those soldiers and Marines hailed from Hawaii, and four of them were posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.
"Hawaii's losses in Korea were the highest per capita for all the states and territories," said the governor. "They're not abstractions, (and) they're not the subject of an academic exercise. They were human beings from Hawaii with families, friends and community."
The annual ceremony included a rifle salute by the Hawaii Air National Guard, as well as music by the 111th Army Band and the Spanaway Lake High School Choir. As part of the service, each veteran's headstone was adorned with an American flag and a flower lei.
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