Veterans buried in Hawaii are honored with a lei each Memorial Day. Over 50,000 lei are donated each year by local organizations and inpiduals to be placed on graves at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific and other veterans’ cemeteries.
Drop off containers are available at Punchbowl and city facilities, including all city fire stations and many city parks, receive lei in the days leading up to Memorial Day each year.
To help in this massive floral effort, members of the public were invited to bring their lunch to the Honolulu Hale (city hall) Courtyard the Friday before Memorial Day and make lei. The Royal Hawaiian Band played and there was hula by the 2011 Lei Day Queen Sandrina Lei Ilima Cabato De La Cruz.
All lei are made of fresh flowers or ti leaf and must measure 20-24 inches before tying. The lei are placed on each veteran’s grave marker before the annual Memorial Day Ceremony on May 30. Taking in an activity like during your Hawaii Vacation will create lasting memories.
Hawaii residents take this commemoration very seriously. I have watched television news coverage of lei drop-offs, much like food bank donations in other areas. Local civic organizations often take this on as a project. It is fun to see the smiles on the faces of children as they carefully contribute their hand-crafted floral memorials. If you’d like to lend a hand, more information is available from the Honolulu Department of Parks and Recreation.