Military honored at 64th Annual Memorial Day Ceremony

Published On: May 27 2013 03:30:00 PM HST

Military officials, lawmakers, and hundreds of guests gathered at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl Crater for the 64th annual Memorial Day Ceremony.

HONOLULU -

Military officials, lawmakers, and hundreds of guests gathered at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl Crater for the 64th annual Memorial Day Ceremony.

It was a day to honor the sacrifices of the nation's men and women in uniform while also paying tribute to those who continue to fight.

"I think it's important for all Americans to take time to pause on Memorial Day and pay memory to those who have served," Brian Grimm of Honolulu said.

"We have to remember those who gave their lives so we can live in a beautiful place like this, free. That's the message," Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said.

Another tradition on this Memorial Day weekend is the donation of leis by residents from across the state for the nearly 55,000 military personnel who are buried at Punchbowl.

"Yesterday the cars were driving up. They said, 'We heard you need a couple more thousand,' and they began dropping off leis and we made it,"  said Jeanne Ishikawa, deputy director of the city’s parks and recreations department.

"No other place in the country, or maybe in the world do people reach out, gather flowers, string them together and put them on leis. I think we're a special place," Caldwell said.

The number of people laid to rest at Punchbowl continues to rise, but officials are prepared.

"We will start within the next nine months the expansion of the cemetery by moving the main office out of the front gate and then we will build 7,000 additional above ground column barrier niches, said cemetery director Gene Castagnetti.

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