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Mayor Mufi Hannemann
Memorial Day Ceremony
May 25, 2009
Ladies and gentlemen, friends and neighbors, brothers and sisters: Aloha kakahiaka kakou, and welcome to the
(Special introductions, acknowledgements)
We are especially honored to have with us today Assistant Secretary of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs for the Department of Veterans Affairs, L. "Tammy" Duckworth. We're very proud that a graduate of
Assistant Secretary Duckworth is a decorated combat veteran. She was wounded in battle in
We thank the Boy Scouts who placed lei at each grave here at Punchbowl yesterday and the Girl Scouts who did the same with Gail and I at the
I would also like to thank our city Department of Parks and Recreation, Director Les Chang and Deputy Director Gail Haraguchi, and all the wonderful volunteers who work so hard to ensure this important annual event is a success.
It has been 59 years since the first Memorial Day service was held here to honor those members of the armed forces who died in service to our nation.
By that morning in 1950, more than 12,000 Americans had already been laid to rest in these hallowed grounds, mostly casualties of World War II.
We must never forget those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation during that terrible conflict:
Those who perished on the beaches of Normandy; in the skies over Berlin; in the deserts of North Africa; in the jungles of Guadalcanal; in the waters of the North Atlantic; and in the streets of Manila.
The war changed
But many more lives would be cut tragically short in the years to come, in places like
— Places like
We are here today to remember and to honor all the soldiers, sailors, airmen, Coast Guardsmen, Marines and merchant mariners who have given their lives for us.
We are here to recall the incredible sacrifices they have made, and to acknowledge a debt that can never be repaid in full.
We remember all those laid to rest at this sacred site.
And we remember those who lie in unmarked graves on lonely foreign shores;
Those entombed beneath the waves;
Those who were taken prisoner and never released;
Those who remain Missing in Action;
We must also remember those who served our country proudly, but returned home tormented by hidden wounds and personal demons that followed them from the combat zones.
Many never fully recovered, and died on mean streets surrounded by loneliness, addiction, poverty and squalor. They deserved so much better.
We are here today to remember and to honor every one of our veterans who sacrificed their lives for our freedom, and to express our gratitude and appreciation to those who continue to serve our great nation today.
I would like to personally thank Admiral Timothy Keating, commander of the United States Pacific Command, for his exemplary service to
And let us remember that more than 7,000 Hawaii-based troops are currently serving our country in
But we must especially remember today those who did not return to their ohana, their friends, their loved ones, their community – their home.
These were real people, with real lives and real families — people such as First Lieutenant Nainoa Hoe, who was raised in Kailua and graduated from Kamehameha Schools and the University of Hawaii. He was just 27 years old when he was killed by a sniper while on patrol in
Hoe was married, had already earned a Master's Degree in Business Administration, and had demonstrated strong leadership skills as ROTC battalion commander at UH, and on duty in
Let me conclude with a few stanzas from a poem by U.S. Coast Guard pilot Kelly Strong.
I heard the sound of Taps one night,
Mahalo. Aloha ke akua. God bless you all. Malama pono.