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Every Punchbowl grave gets lei, state cemetery still short

By Tim Hurley

LAST UPDATED: 3:04 p.m. HST, May 25, 2014

More than 38,000 lei were donated to cover the graves of every veteran buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl, but several thousand graves at the Hawaii State Veterans Cemetery will not have lei.

As of Sunday afternoon, the Hawaii State Veterans Cemetery was about 5,000 lei short of the amount needed to decorate the nearly 9,000 graves at the Kaneohe cemetery, said Willie Hirokane, operations manager at the state veterans cemetery.

Decorating veteran's graves at Punchbow with lei and an American flag is a tradition that dates back more than 60 years. But putting lei on the graves at the state cemetery is a relatively new tradition.

In recent years, there's been a shortage of lei donations and the national cemetery has only been able to fill the need with a last-minute push. 

This year, donations went so well at Punchbowl that it was able to donate 3,000 lei to the state cemetery, Hirokane said.

Many of the lei came from graduations that occurred over the weekend, officials said.

The Mayor's Memorial Day Service at Punchbowl will be at 8:30 a.m. Monday. The 16th annual Roll Call of Honor in Remembrance Ceremony at Punchbowl will be held at 10 a.m. 

The Governor's Memorial Day Ceremony will be at the Hawaii State Veterans Cemetery at 1 p.m.

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