Memorial Day 2017 — Community gathers to honor the fallen, celebrate those who served

| June 2, 2017 | 0 Comments

Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1572 representatives Bernard Jacang and Ade Bagayes present a wreath at the base of the flagpole in honor of Soldiers who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

Jack Wiers
U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii Public Affairs
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — The annual commemoration of the fallen in defense of our nation, and the celebration of those who have served and currently serve, was easily recognizable and solemnly embraced with informal rites and formal Memorial Day ceremonies, here, at the Post Cemetery, Monday.

Col. Stephen E. Dawson, commander, USAG-HI, makes remarks at the Memorial Day ceremony Monday. (Photo by Kayla Overton, U.S Army Garrison-Hawaii Public Affairs)

Col. Stephen E. Dawson, commander, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii, in his formal remarks, framed the 23-minute ceremony by emphasizing those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of our country.

“From those who first gave their lives at Lexington and Concord, to those who have recently fallen in Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Dawson, “… clearly the defense of freedom is costly.”

Schofield Post Cemetery receives community members May 29 for an official Memorial Day Remembrance ceremony. (Photo by Jack Wiers, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii Public Affairs)

An increasing number of organizations in recent years have participated, including the Military Order of the Purple Heart, multiple Veterans of Foreign Wars posts, Disabled American Veterans and members of the Hawaii World War I Centennial Task Force. Each sent representatives to lay commemorative wreaths at the base of the Post Cemetery flagpole.

Two noteworthy anniversaries served as reminders of the lasting and enduring sacrifices made that were instrumental in shaping 20th century America. The 100th anniversary of America’s involvement in World War I was a war that made the U.S. a world power. Fifty years ago, 1967, marked the midway point of the Vietnam War when U.S. military involvement peaked.

The Vietnam War at that time polarized the nation and left returning warriors, at best, forgotten by many.

“Many of those who lived didn’t come home to cheering crowds and victory parades, but to unrest and protest,” Dawson offered in his remarks. “Today we remember, and honor, and will never forget those who 50 years ago paid the supreme sacrifice in Vietnam, and all (those) who served in that conflict.”

More than 200 volunteers gather at dawn to distribute lei and flags at the Schofield Post Cemetery on Memorial Day. (Photo by Jack Wiers U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii Public Affairs)

Community support
Earlier that morning, while gathering before dawn at the Post Cemetery, more than 200 volunteers of all ages completed their annual mission of honoring the fallen.

Members of the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, American Heritage Girls and Rainbow Seniors were among the dozen or so groups who took varied roles in the Memorial Day remembrance.

During the week prior to Memorial Day, the Wahiawa Rainbow Seniors organization crafted hundreds of lei. On Monday morning, those lei and individual American flags were carefully placed on each of the 18-hundred gravesites by youth organizations.

Brothers Colin, Jakob and Ian Fergueson of Waipio Gentry offer personal reflection Monday after participating with other youth organizations in placing flags and lei on Schofield Post Cemetery gravesites. (Photo by Jack Wiers, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii Public Affairs)

Shaun Fergueson, retired Navy, brought his three sons to Schofield from Waipio to participate for a third year.

“Reverence and respect for those who went before you is what we try and instill in them,” said Fergueson.

“It was a good experience,” said Jenna Murphy, troop leader, whose American Heritage Girls Troop 0050, took part for a first time.

Throughout the morning, visitors of all ages made their personal pilgrimage to gravesites throughout the cemetery. The recognition of sacrifice evolved in a variety of personal ways for them.

Dawson, in his concluding comments, offered a reminder that acknowledging sacrifice and service could come in less formal ways than a national salute and ceremony on Memorial Day.

Elizabeth Naramore, age 4, and her mother, Rachel, meet with Roy Laulusa of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 339. (Photo by Kayla Overton, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii Public Affairs)

“As we all leave the cemetery today, let’s each make a special commitment to do one more thing in the days to come,” Dawson said. “Let’s reach out and shake the hand of a living hero, whether it’s someone in uniform waiting in line at the grocery checkout or a veteran standing along a parade route. Tell them you honor their service.

“Tell them simply, ‘thanks,’” he added.


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Category: Community, Observances

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