RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
Kyle Smyers, 4, and his father, Kevin, a retired Marine, held a candle yesterday at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Day Eve candlelight ceremony at Punchbowl.
‘Remember their sacrifice’
Patriots bedeck every grave at Punchbowl with Old Glory and a lei
With the Iraq war death toll climbing, Hawaii marked a particularly poignant Memorial Day weekend with ceremonies across Oahu yesterday. Veterans from World War II and the Korean War joined those from more recent conflicts on a day of remembrance for comrades who lost their lives.
"I appreciate what the military has taught me and done for me," said Henry K. Ahlo, 75, a student at Kamehameha Schools when Pearl Harbor was bombed. "I appreciate that I had the chance to serve Hawaii and the United States."
More events are scheduled for today.
From young Scouts to veterans of World War II, Hawaii residents joined in solemn remembrance yesterday of servicemen and woman who made the ultimate sacrifice.
Thanks to the Scouts, every grave at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific will have an American flag and lei to honor them today, Memorial Day.
In pre-holiday observances yesterday, dignitaries and veterans gathered at Punchbowl in the morning and again for a candlelight vigil after sunset.
"The best way to honor the dead is to remember their sacrifice and dedicate our lives to the nation for which they gave their lives," said U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka, the keynote speaker during the morning commemoration. "Today our great nation goes further into the fifth year of our current conflict into Iraq and our sixth year into Afghanistan. Our men and women in those conflicts include service members who come from the Pacific islands."
Dozens of people -- veterans, family members and current military personnel -- attended the annual Roll Call of Honor in Remembrance ceremony yesterday morning. A similar ceremony was held hours earlier at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.
More than 100 attended an evening service at Punchbowl, a candlelight vigil by Vietnam veterans who rode up on motorcycles and parked them in a line beside the graves.
Wayne Waterman, an Aina Haina man who served in the Vietnam War, said he does not like to come out to crowded events.
"I feel more comfortable being around my fellow Vietnam veterans," he said last night. "At least these guys know what I'm going through. Some of the speeches were hard to listen to. They brought back too many memories."
Ever since the war, Waterman jumps every time he hears loud noises. As Waterman lit his candle when the sky began to darken last night, his friend leaned over to him and said, "You better prepare yourself for the gun salute."
JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARBULLETIN.COM
Archie Loo, right, received a certificate and a handshake from U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka yesterday morning during the Roll Call of Honor Remembrance ceremony at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl.
CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARBULLETIN.COM
Junior Girl Scout Alyssa Lau, 10, of Troop 1018 in Kaneohe carried an armful of American flags to be posted at grave sites yesterday in the Hawaii State Veterans Cemetery in Kaneohe. Twenty-five Girl Scout troops with approximately 140 girls and 50 adults placed leis and flags on 6,600 grave sites to mark Memorial Day.
The two have been best friends since the ninth grade at Kalani High School.
Speakers last night included Gov. Linda Lingle, Rear Adm. Van Alford of the U.S. Pacific Command, and Nina Nguyen, a Vietnam refugee who thanked the veterans for helping people like her.
Alford said America still has unfinished business in Vietnam, where U.S. teams continue to look for the remains of American soldiers.
Roy Dunlap, 48, of Aiea cut the grass around his parents' headstone and placed a fresh bouquet of colorful flowers.
His mother died in a family car accident, and his father, who served in Vietnam, died about 10 years ago after retiring with a couple of Purple Hearts.
"It's important for us to come back," said Dunlap.
Also at the cemetery was Henry K. Ahlo, 75, who was a student at Kamehameha Schools when Pearl Harbor was bombed. He knew then that he wanted to enlist.
From his home in Nanakuli, the Army took him to Korea and back, Panama City, Vietnam, Washington, D.C. -- and back to retirement in Nanakuli.
"I appreciate what the military has taught me and done for me," said Ahlo, part of the Combat Infantrymen's Association, the Korean War Veterans Association Hawaii Chapter 1 and the Old Soldiers of Hawaii -- three of the 13 organizations honored at yesterday's ceremony. "I appreciate that I had the chance to serve Hawaii and the United States."
Campbell High School senior Naomi May, one of the 10 students statewide nominated by Akaka to attend the Naval Academy, said she wants to become a cargo plane pilot when she graduates in 2012.
"I feel honored just to be a part of the ceremony," said May, who helped Akaka pass out the certificates awarded to veterans service organizations. "I give them the highest respect."
JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARBULLETIN.COM
Some of the veterans and honorees who received certificates of honor sat and listened yesterday during the Roll Call of Honor in Remembrance ceremony.