’We will never forget’: Virus makes for different Memorial Day, but meaning unchanged

  • Cub Scouts and their families place flags on graves at West Hawaii Veterans Cemetery for Memorial Day. Courtesy photo Special to West Hawaii Today

  • Flags are placed on graves at West Hawaii Veterans Cemetery by Cub Scouts for Memorial Day. Courtesy photo Special to West Hawaii Today

  • Hawaii National Guard Soldiers introducing themselves to the Cub Scouts while maintaining social distancing Guidelines. Courtesy photo Special to West Hawaii Today

  • Hawaii Army National Guard First Sergeant James Hokoana thanking the Cub Scouts and their families for taking the time to honor Service Members, passed and present, who have made sacrifices that allow us our freedom and liberty Saturday at the West Hawaii Veterens Cemetery. Courtesy photo Special to West Hawaii Today

  • Hawaii Army National Guard Sergeant Daeus Bencomo explaining the different parts and functions of the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV) to the Cub Scouts Saturday at West Hawaii Veterans Cemetery. Courtesy photo special to West Hawaii Today

  • Hawaii Army National Guard Sergeant Kage Fergerstrom paying his respects to the many Service Members before him Saturday at West Hawaii Veterans Cemetery. Courtesy photo Special to West Hawaii Today

Memorial Day is more than a day off for picnics and time at the beach, it is a time to remember service men and women who paid the ultimate price for freedom.

The Memorial Day ceremony regularly held at the West Hawaii Veterans Cemetery every year has been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The American Legion Kona Post 20 was scheduled to host the ceremony this year.

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American Legion National Commander James W. “Bill” Oxford in his message to members, stated that Memorial Day, for most of us, will be different this year.

The meaning, however, does not change.

Oxford is calling on The American Legion Family to encourage communities far and wide to pay tribute to our nation’s fallen heroes today at dusk by lighting candles of honor and placing them on their front lanai.

“Such a display will remind everyone that our resolve to honor those who served before us will continue even as social-distancing measures limit our ability to perform traditional Memorial Day remembrances,” said Oxford through a statement.

The manner and placement of the candles of honor are up to each individual. Oxford recommends using a front lanai as a visible reminder of the price that was paid for freedom.

Color options for consideration could include a red candle to remember the bloodshed in battle for the protection of our freedoms, white candle to keep our POWs/MIAs ever in our thoughts and prayers as we await their return home and blue candle to salute the memories of those who made it home but are no longer with us.

Even though the ceremony at West Hawaii Veterans Cemetery is canceled this year, the gate will be open Monday from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. for family members to pay their respects.

Cub Scouts from Kona Hongwanji pack 12 and their families decorated each grave with a flag on Saturday. Members of the Hawaii National Guard surprised the scouts with a visit relaying to the young men how much they appreciated the scouts coming every year to honor the veterans interned at the cemetery.

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“Since we are already on this side of the island, about seven of my men drove up to the cemetery in their Humvees and talked to the Cub Scouts, thanking them and their families for taking the time to honor service members, passed and present, who have made sacrifices that allow us our freedom and liberty,” said Capt. Randall Duldulao, commander of the Kealakekua Armory.

Oxford stated that no matter how we remember this year, the most important message we need to send is that we will never forget.

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