JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARBULLETIN.COM
Hawaii Kai resident Nancy Sidun deposited a lei into the lei drop-off box yesterday at the National Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl. About 10,000 more leis are needed to help accommodate the Hawaii State Veterans Cemetery in Kaneohe. The donation box will be available at the Punchbowl cemetery until noon today.
10,000 leis still needed
The flowers will adorn graves at Hawaii State Veterans Cemetery
About 10,000 more leis are needed by noon today to make sure a Memorial Day tradition doesn't fall short.
Every year for Memorial Day, up to 50,000 leis are collected to place on graves at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl and the Hawaii State Veterans Cemetery in Kaneohe.
With 35,000 leis, Punchbowl should have enough for each grave, said Gene Castagnetti, cemetery director. But they are about 7,000 to 10,000 leis short to cover every grave in Kaneohe.
In asking for more leis, Castagnetti evoked what Maj. Gen. John Logan said during Memorial Day's founding in 1868.
"Pick your choicest flowers and place them on the graves," Castagnetti said. "All I'm asking is that we need some help."
The leis collected so far should be enough to cover all 33,000 graves in Punchbowl and decorate the cremated remains and chapel area.
A drop-off box was set up yesterday and will be placed at the turnaround area of the cemetery today from 8 a.m. to noon.
At 1 p.m., the Boy Scouts of America will continue their tradition of placing a lei on each grave in memory of fallen veterans and service members. The 59th annual Mayor's Memorial Day Ceremony begins at 8:30 a.m. tomorrow at the cemetery.
"We still have time," Castagnetti said. "It wouldn't take that much for people to get out and make two plumeria leis about 24 inches long, or ti leaves if it's easier. We're not asking for people to be too elaborate. The choicest flower is determined by them."