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An abundance of leis will adorn
Hideko Horita, her husband, Rex, and a grandson paid respects to her brother, 100th Battalion member Harold Gyotoku, who died in 1952, and her son, Rex Jr., who died two years ago.
"It's a habit," Horita said. "It's Memorial Day. We better go."
Jackie Perreira placed flowers on the graves of her father, Kitami Namba, and uncle Norman Kaleo, who are buried in different locations in the cemetery. She also left each an open can of Budweiser beer, "so they can enjoy it together," she said.
"They were drinking buddies," explained Perreira's daughter, Kelly Devera.
"We say hello to all the guys here," Perreira said, gesturing to the curving green lawn of graves behind her and the American flags fluttering in the breeze. "The holiday is for them."
Yesterday morning, 30 high school sophomores who are participating in a weekend Hugh O'Brian Youth Leadership Seminar spent several hours stringing plumeria and orchid leis.
Gan Uyeda of Mid-Pacific Institute said making leis "honors these people that have given us the freedoms and the rights that we have today."
"A couple of hours of my time is nothing," said Jasmine Enos of Waianae High. The veterans "contributed their time for us, and that means more to me than anything."
Though Punchbowl Cemetery is officially closed to new burials, sometimes vacancies are created when a body is moved to another cemetery. In that way, five men who died serving in Iraq have been buried at Punchbowl, Castagnetti said.
"I think the American public and the citizens of Oahu are more aware of the commitment of American military men and women now, because so many are deployed fighting global terrorism," Castagnetti said.
"Young people are realizing they are the direct beneficiaries of the service and sacrifice of American service men and women," Castagnetti said. "And they are becoming more cognitive that they have a role to play."
When cannons fire 21-gun salutes at Punchbowl ceremonies tonight and tomorrow, the man giving the commands will be 25-year-old Marine 2nd Lt. Phuong Phan, who was just stationed in Hawaii last week.
The Vietnam-born Phan has lived in the United States since 1986, became a naturalized citizen in 1998 and a Marine in January 2004. He said he expects it to be "awesome" to participate in Memorial Day ceremonies at Punchbowl.
"After seeing everything going on in the world after 9/11 and the wars, I wanted to help do my part," Phan said of his decision to enlist.
Phan knows that his currently planned six-month deployment to Okinawa could change into deployment to a war zone.
"It's part of the job description," he said. "I would not mind at all."