Story by Kristen Wong on 06/01/2018KANEOHE Members of the local community and multiple dignitaries remembered fallen service members and recognized Gold Star Families during the 2018 Governor's Memorial Day Ceremony at Hawaii State Veterans Cemetery, in Kaneohe May 28.
Escorted by Hawaii National Guard Youth Challenge Academy cadets, guests presented flower lei and wreaths for the occasion, with musical accompaniment by the 111th Army Band.
Airman 1st Class Steve Francois, a cyber operator with the 747th Communications Squadron, presented the official wreath from the state of Hawaii. Yeoman 3rd Class Brandon Ford, an administrative clerk to the Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam commander, presented the official wreath from U.S. Pacific Command.
Maj. Gen. Arthur "Joe" Logan, the adjutant general of Hawaii, spoke about the origins of the Gold Star Family and Memorial Day. Memorial Day began shortly after the Civil War, first known as Decoration Day, in 1868. On Decoration Day, people would honor fallen warriors, adorning graves with flowers.
World War I saw the beginning of a Gold Star Family. Military families would fly flags bearing a blue star in honor of their service member. Military families who lost their service member in combat would change the blue star to a gold one.
Hawaii Gov. David Ige called for a round of applause for attending Gold Star Families.
"There is no one who has sacrificed more for their country than a Gold Star Family," Ige said. "When one of our heroes falls in the line of duty all of us will do everything we can to ease their grief. We can never do enough to support our Gold Star Families."
Ige also wanted to pay tribute to "citizen Soldiers," or those who served but did not make the military a career. He mentioned historical local "citizen Soldiers" such as Sparks Matsunaga, Hiram Fong and Robert Alexander Anderson.
"Most of these citizen soldiers left the uniform services once they returned home, but they continued to serve their nation and pave the way for Hawaii," Ige said. "It is our citizen soldiers who forge the future of our land in mostly subtle but often profound ways on this Memorial Day in 2018. I would like to ask you to pay your respects to the citizen Soldiers as well as those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our state and our country those whose lives were cut short by war and those who survived, returned home and became architects of the future."
The Hawaii National Guard Honor Guard performed a three-gun salute, followed by a member of the 111th Army Band playing taps.
"Memorial Day to me is very significant," said Stan Fernandez, a national council officer for the Board of Directors at Veterans of Foreign Wars. "We honor all those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation those that stood for what we stand for today, freedom."
Fernandez, who served in the Air Force for little more than 28 years, said the ceremony was significant because it honored citizen Soldiers.
"Many times we (only) think about our active duty Soldiers our Army, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard, but citizen Soldiers also served during the war," he said.
Fernandez recalled as he served in the Vietnam War, he flew in a reconnaissance airplane without weapons, with the Hawaii Air National Guard providing combat air patrol cover.
Command Chief Master Sgt. William Parker, senior enlisted advisor, Hawaii National Guard, was among those attending.
"I love the venue, seems more space up here," Parker said. "It's a great environment, great scenery."
When asked what he hoped people would take away from this ceremony, Parker replied he wanted "people (to) realize that this isn't just a three day weekend."
"Hopefully families are out there enjoying their time off but they do something to remember the people, the 1.2 million veterans that have given the ultimate sacrifice," he said.