Floating memories and making promises to never forget

At the pounding of the Taiko drums, the crowd of more than 40,000 fell silent at the 15th annual Lantern Floating Ceremony. Marking the start of an event rich in tradition and now anchored with Aloha.

It started in Japan as a Buddhist ceremony and has grown into an annual night of remembrance at Magic Island that brings together people from around the world. Strangers who never met before joining in a a special, spiritual expression of love.

“I don’t know how to explain it,” Tammy Sajonas said.

As the sun began to set, handwritten messages set on wooden boards began to cast a golden glow. For Sajonas and her daughter Serena, it was time to say goodbye to a loving husband and dad.

“I wrote to him and thanked him for letting me do everything I can right now and what he’s given me in life,” Serena said.

A loss still fresh of a life that ended too soon. For others it’s a chance to say goodbye, again.

“Awesome, unbelievable,”Allen Bodenlos said.

Bodenlos was the Bugle Master for the USS Arizona Band and was on shore when Pearl Harbor was attacked. Being here is his way of telling his 21 band members they will never be forgotten.

“All my comrades and shipmates that were lost on that dreadful morning of December 7, 1941,” he said.

As the lanterns were set afloat, many were overcome with emotion.

“Even though they’ve left a thumbprint on your heart, they are no longer here with you. It’s really touching,” Jennifer Perciballi said.

Perciballi traveled from New York City to pay tribute to her grandmother.

“It’s a spiritual gathering between all cultures and religions, I wanted to be a part of it.”

All the lanterns cast into the water Monday night will be collected and used again next year.

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