Honolulu Star-Bulletin - Kokua Line

Kokua Line

By June Watanabe

Friday, June 25, 1999

Cemetery section not overlooked

Question: Our uncle passed away last year and we visited Punchbowl recently for the very first time. As children, we remembered stringing plumeria leis to be placed on the graves of veterans for Memorial Day. So it was touching to have gone on Memorial Day to see flags and leis and remember. But we were very saddened and disappointed that the veterans who are in the columbarium section had no flags or leis. Why? Couldn't they have placed a medium-size flag and a lei at each columbarium section?

Answer: There is no room or means to place individual flags and leis in the columbarium section because of vertical walls, said Gene Castagnetti, director of the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, Punchbowl.

However, an "Avenue of Flags" is set out in each court in the columbarium section. Those banners are 5-foot-by-9-foot burial flags used to drape caskets and donated by families for specific use in the Avenue of Flags, he said. Vases also are available for families to place flowers, he said.

As it is, an Avenue of Flags was established in 1990 to replace individual flags placed on graves at all national cemeteries. This was done "because the size of our cemeteries was growing," Castagnetti said. Punchbowl has slightly more than 34,000 graves, plus about 5,000 niches in the columbarium.

While the cemeteries grew, "manpower simultaneously was downsized," Castagnetti said. In order to continue to present a flag tribute to veterans, "veteran organizations agreed that the Avenue of Flags would serve as an appropriate replacement."

At Punchbowl, however, the tradition of placing miniature flags, as well as fresh flower leis, on graves on Memorial Day and Veterans Day is possible only because of "the full voluntary assistance of the Boy Scouts," Castagnetti said.

Afterward, prison inmates are brought in to pick up the flags for future use and to dispose of the leis. Otherwise, it would take his staff of 15 many weeks to do the job, Castagnetti said.

"So, we ask for the understanding of the next of kin as to the enormity of our task," he said.


About 2:40 p.m. on May 27, at the bus stop on Hotel Street fronting Longs Drugs, a man severely bent with osteoporosis hobbled toward the Waikiki bus. As he almost got to the door, the driver closed the door and drove off! Another Waikiki bus was behind, still taking in passengers, so he hobbled over to that bus. But just as he got close to the door, the driver ignored the man's waving and also drove off! How disappointing that these two "local" drivers still need to learn what aloha means. Shame, shame, shame on them! -- C.H.

(If you see something like that happening, call 848-4500, with details, such as bus number, route number, location and time.

(If a driver can be identified, "We will follow a progressive policy of counseling, retraining and finally, worker discipline," said J. Roger Morton, senior vice president of Oahu Transit Services. An observer also may be sent to monitor a driver's behavior and actions.

(The goal is to improve services for all riders, but especially those who depend on TheBus because of a disability, Morton said.

(He said the company has been able to reduce the number of complaints substantially over the past five years. "However, it appears there is still work to be done.")

Need help with problems? Call Kokua Line at 525-8686,
fax 525-6711, or write to P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu 96802.
Email to kokualine@starbulletin.com

E-mail to City Desk

Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]
[Stylebook] [Feedback]

© 1999 Honolulu Star-Bulletin