comscore Punchbowl, Kaneohe cemeteries’ Memorial Day observances canceled due to coronavirus concerns | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
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Punchbowl, Kaneohe cemeteries’ Memorial Day observances canceled due to coronavirus concerns

  • STAR-ADVERTISER / 2016
                                The annual Memorial Day observance at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific has become a victim of the new coronavirus.

    STAR-ADVERTISER / 2016

    The annual Memorial Day observance at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific has become a victim of the new coronavirus.

  • CRAIG T. KOJIMA / 2017
                                In 2017, in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War, cannons were fired as F-22 Raptors from Hickam Air Force Base did a flyover.

    CRAIG T. KOJIMA / 2017

    In 2017, in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War, cannons were fired as F-22 Raptors from Hickam Air Force Base did a flyover.

  • CRAIG T. KOJIMA / 2019
                                A flag and plumeria lei decorated a veteran’s grave during last year’s services at Punchbowl.

    CRAIG T. KOJIMA / 2019

    A flag and plumeria lei decorated a veteran’s grave during last year’s services at Punchbowl.

  • CRAIG T. KOJIMA / 2018
                                The cemetery administration said it “made the difficult decision to not host public events for Memorial Day.” The 8th Training Support Command performs a rifle salute.

    CRAIG T. KOJIMA / 2018

    The cemetery administration said it “made the difficult decision to not host public events for Memorial Day.” The 8th Training Support Command performs a rifle salute.

Annual Memorial Day observances at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific and Hawaii State Veterans Cemetery have been canceled due to COVID-19 concerns, according to both cemeteries.

The Monday commemoration at Punchbowl would have been the 71st annual Mayor’s Memorial Day Ceremony. A governor’s observance typically is held at the Hawaii State Veterans Cemetery in Kaneohe.

Last year Punchbowl was awash in more than 35,000 small and large American flags as Memorial Day and the sacrifices made by American service members across the decades were observed.

The event occurred close to the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion on June 6, 1944.

“Bookend” events were planned this year to remember Victory in Europe Day on May 8 with over 100 vintage warbirds flying over the National Mall in Washington, D.C., in 24 formations and a series of late-summer events centered around the Battleship Missouri Memorial in Pearl Harbor. Japan surrendered to the Allies on the Missouri in Tokyo Bay on Sept. 2, 1945.

The warbird flight tribute over the National Mall was rescheduled for Sept. 25 due to coronavirus concerns.

Hawaii State Veterans Cemetery said individuals can place flags and wreathes on grave sites Monday, but large-scale flag-placing efforts are not permitted.

The National Cemetery Administration, which oversees veteran cemeteries including Punchbowl, said it “is committed to observing Memorial Day 2020 in a manner that honors those who sacrificed for our nation while protecting the health and safety of visitors and our team members.”

It said that all 142 Veterans Affairs national cemeteries will be open for visitation throughout the Memorial Day weekend, with families welcome to place flowers or individual flags at grave sites.

The cemetery administration said it “made the difficult decision to not host public events for Memorial Day, including the mass placement and retrieval of gravesite flags by any groups.”

“NCA relies largely on volunteers for placement and retrieval of gravesite flags for Memorial Day and these activities attract thousands of volunteers annually. Limiting the number of volunteers is not practical. Cemetery staff will conduct a wreath-laying ceremony to officially commemorate Memorial Day,” the administration said.

The public cannot attend due to health and safety concerns, it said, but photos will be shared on social media.

All Veterans Affairs national cemeteries remain open and continue to provide interment for veterans and eligible individuals during the COVID-19 crisis, the administration said.

As of April 15, to ensure social distancing, witnessing family members have been asked to view interments from their cars or the road very near their cars.

Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam said it will fire a 21-gun salute in honor of Memorial Day beginning at noon Monday.

U.S. Navy regulations first prescribed the specific manner for rendering salutes in 1818, requiring that “when the president shall visit a ship of the United States Navy he is to be saluted with 21 guns,” the joint base said.

Today the 21-gun salute is fired in honor of dignitaries and and certain occasions.

On Memorial Day, the last Monday in May, a salute of 21 guns is fired, one round per minute beginning at noon, the Navy said. During the salute, the national ensign is flown at half-mast to honor and remember those who died in active military service.

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