It was an emotional and moving day for many in Hawaii.
Memorial Day turned out to be a beautiful day to honor fallen service members in Kaneohe.
Monday’s ceremony at Hawaii State Veterans Cemetery was Gov. David Ige’s first as Hawaii governor.
Its theme was “Remember their sacrifices for the freedom of others” and the U.S. Pacific Command, commanders representing each military service, civilians and family members were present.
“For all of us in the military, we have people we lost, friends, comrades,” said Gary Chamberlin, Chapter 8 Special Forces Association. “Even though it’s for all of those who passed before us, we hold a special place in our hearts for the ones we knew first-hand.”
Keeping with tradition, veterans organizations came up one-by-one and draped lei at the stage for their fallen comrades.
In Ige’s first Memorial Day address, he told the crowd 9,800 veterans are buried at the cemetery.
“There is no greater contribution a state can make than give the nation the lives of its own. No state has sent has sent a larger share of its residents in conflict since the end of World War II than Hawaii,” he said.
Ige urged the public to remember the brave men and women who gave their lives for our freedom.
“Hawaii’s veteran population, including their immediate families, represent about one quarter of Hawaii’s population, an indication of just how important the ties between Hawaii, the military and its veterans are,” he said.
Meanwhile, thousands gathered at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific to remember the fallen, including veterans organizations, lawmakers and community members.
“Especially on this day, Memorial Day, for behind every dead in service is a story of a life lost, a dream unfulfilled, a child unborn, a permanent drought in the river of descendants,” said keynote speaker, the Honorable Judge Thomas Kaulukukui Jr.
“We will never forget our fallen that gave it all for this day and for freedom,” said retired Sgt. 1st Class Sheldon Gaison.
This was the 66th annual Memorial Day service at Punchbowl.
This year marks the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War, as well as the 70th anniversary of the close of WWII.