Honoring the U.S. Military with Hawaii’s Memorial Day 2018 Events.
Five ways Hawaii salutes our Armed Forces heroes on Memorial Day Weekend
Three years after the Civil War ended, the head of an organization of Union veterans established Decoration Day in 1868 as a time for our nation to decorate the graves of the war dead. After World War I (1914-1918), the tribute was extended to honor Americans making the ultimate sacrifice in all wars.
One hundred years later, Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which established Memorial Day as the last Monday in May.
While many find the three-day Memorial Day Weekend as a great opportunity to enjoy a beach potluck, Hawaii’s Memorial Day events hit the true heart of this federal holiday by commemorating U.S. Service Members who died while on active duty.
Here are five traditions and ceremonies on Oahu that you’ll find between May 26-28 marking the 2018 Memorial Day Weekend.
In Hawaii, the lei is a symbol of affection presented upon arriving or leaving the islands.
Photo Credit: Bruce Asato at the Star Advertiser
1) “Sew a Lei for Memorial Day” Friday, May 25
Among the poignant Hawaii Memorial Day traditions is the placing of lei upon every fallen hero gravesite within the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. Each year, members of the community work together to make some 38,000 lei to fulfill this ambitious goal. If you’re into volunteering, you’ll find numerous opportunities to help make ti leaf and fresh flower lei, donate fresh flower lei and anthurium wreath, and "Sew a Lei for Memorial Day."
To contribute to Hawaii’s “Sew a Lei for Memorial Day” tradition, visit the Department of Parks & Recreation. Or call (808) 923-1802. The registration deadline is Friday, May 18.
You can also make your own 20-inch to 24-inch lei for drop off at designated collection sites on Friday, May 25, between 9:30am-1pm.
Since its 1927 opening, Waikiki Natatorium has been Hawaii’s official memorial to those who served and died in World War I.
Photo Credit: Waikiki Natatorium via Flickr
2) Memorial Day Observance at the Waikiki Natatorium, Sunday, May 27
The 30th annual Memorial Day Ceremony at the Waikiki Natatorium Memorial (Natatorium.org / 2815 Kalakaua Ave.) will honor an estimated 1.32 million fallen military members who served from the American Revolution to the World Wars, Afghanistan, and Iraq.
The salt-water swimming pool built in the ocean at San Souci Beach was originally designed to honor the 10,000 men and women from Hawaii who served and the 101 who gave their lives during WWI–which was raging exactly 100 years ago (1914-1918). Unfortunately, the Waikiki Natatorium Memorial was closed for swimming in 1979 due to decades of neglect.
As Hawaii celebrates the second year of the WWI Centennial Commemoration, the 2018 Waikiki Natatorium Memorial Day Ceremony will include a Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam honor guard and rifle detail presenting colors, a 21-gun salute and bugle call Taps in memory of the fallen. Hula Halau Olana will continue a long Natatorium Memorial Day observance tradition, evoking the occasion’s spirit through traditional dance.
Punchbowl Cemetery provides beautiful views of Honolulu and Oahu’s south shore.
Photo Credit: Tor Johnson at the Hawaii Tourism Authority
3) National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, Monday, May 28
Few National Cemeteries feature the dramatic natural setting of the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (2177 Puowaina Dr.). “Punchbowl” was formed between 75,000 to 100,000 years ago during the Honolulu period of secondary volcanic activity. The resulting Punchbowl Crater was formed from the ejection of hot lava through cracks in the old coral reefs that then extended to the foot of the Koolau Mountain Range.
Since its 1949 opening of Punchbowl Cemetery, the City and County of Honolulu has partnered with various veteran, educational, and community organizations to perpetuate the time honored Punchbowl Memorial Day Ceremony. Free to the public, the 2018 Memorial Day event that begins at 8:30am is scheduled to feature a presentation of wreath, playing of Taps, speeches, cannon salute, performances by the Royal Hawaiian Band, and U.S. Air Force and Hawaii Air National Guard aircraft flyover. Parking will be extremely limited.
Gold-Star Families and family members of military personnel are invited to participate in the Hawaii Memorial Day Parade.
Photo Credit: American Gold-Star Families Memorial Day Parade
4) American Gold-Star Families Memorial Day Parade, Monday, May 28
Behind each fallen son or daughter is a family that loved this Armed Forces member. These "Gold-Star" families are honored for their sacrifice with the American Gold-Star Families Memorial Day Parade that salutes with floats, marching bands, scout troops, and military organizations.
The Memorial Day Parade begins at 5pm with an opening ceremony at Fort DeRussy Park (2055 Kalia Rd.) in Waikiki, heads down Kalakaua Avenue, and then runs along Monsarrat Avenue to Kapiolani Park’s Waikiki Shell. It’s best that you arrive early so you can secure a great view. Be sure to bring a cup of Hawaiian Isles Kona Coffee with you to enjoy during the procession!
If you’re interested in participating, visit the website or call (800) 626-8590.
Thousands of lanterns illuminate the water off Magic Island on Memorial Day evening.
Photo Credit: Lantern Floating Hawaii
5) Lantern Floating Ceremony, Monday, May 28
Thousands of paper lanterns are released each Memorial Day at Ala Moana Beach Park’s Magic Island, carrying with them the remembrances, hopes, and dreams of those honoring lost loved ones. We are strengthened as a community as we reach out to support others and build understanding of our common values and experiences.
With free admission, the 2018 Lantern Floating Ceremony (LanternFloatingHawaii.com) supports with love and understanding of others – even strangers experiencing many of the same emotions and feelings.
Starting at 6:30pm, the event will showcase a Japanese taiko drum performance, Hawaiian oli (chant) with hula, music and “Light of Harmony.” Arrive early, as lanterns are distributed on a first come, first served basis for this beautiful Hawaii Memorial Day ceremony. Check the website for details on parking and shuttle service to Magic Island.
Our coffee roasting facility itself is located between historic Pearl Harbor and the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific and we have deep respect, admiration, and gratitude for those who serve our nation. This is especially true for those we remember and honor on Memorial Day, the men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice. It's our honor to have our coffees represented in military commissaries worldwide.