Fallen Heroes Honored at Makawao Veterans Cemetery Memorial Day Service
More than 200 veterans, military families, and community members from across Maui County gathered to honor Maui’s fallen, along with all who throughout history have paid the ultimate price.
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) delivered remarks at the Maui Veterans Council’s annual Memorial Day observance held at Makawao Veterans Cemetery on Monday.
The congresswoman spoke about the true meaning of Memorial Day, and the cost of war borne by every service member and military family.
James Hickerson, Hawai‘i resident and Vietnam POW, talked about his more than five years as a prisoner of war, and how service to country, faith, and his fellow POWs got him through captivity. His wife, Carole Hickerson, is the designer of the image which today serves as the black POW/MIA flag, and was one of the founders of nationwide POW/MIA memorial efforts started during the Vietnam War in honor of her then husband, Marine Capt. Stephen Hanson, who vanished in 1967 while piloting a secret helicopter mission in Laos.
Speaking to the ceremony’s theme “Fallen Yet Not Forgotten,” Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said, “As tough and painful as Memorial Day can be, remembering those we lost, it is important that we as a country observe Memorial Day, so that we never forget the cost of war and who pays the price — those who are killed in combat, and those who come home, suffering from visible and invisible wounds, that sometimes haunt them for the rest of their lives. It is for them that we must fight to make sure our veterans are served and cared for. It is for them that we must commit ourselves to never engage in war unless it is absolutely necessary. It is our brothers and sisters, who we honor today, who pay the price. We will never forget.”
Meantime, US Senator Mazie K. Hirono joined Gold Star families, veterans, active duty military personnel, and local elected officials to pay tribute to fallen American service members on Memorial Day. Senator Hirono spoke during the Mayor’s Memorial Day Ceremony at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl and attended the Governor’s Memorial Day Ceremony at Hawaiʻi State Veterans’ Cemetery at Kaneʻohe.
In her remarks at Punchbowl, Senator Hirono honored Brian Kong and Donald Marshall – two of her classmates from Kaimuki High School who fought and died during the Vietnam War.
“On Memorial Day, we pay tribute to all those who fought and died for our country. Today, I want to particularly honor Donald and Brian – two keiki o ka aina who gave their lives in during the war in Vietnam,” Senator Hirono said.“Our Vietnam veterans returned home to a nation divided. But today, we know the importance and need to support our troops even as we may disagree vehemently with the political decisions to send them into harm’s way.”
During her remarks, Senator Hirono also recognized the service of her colleague Senator John McCain and denounced ongoing attacks on his service and character.
“We cannot appropriately honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country if, at the same time, we dishonor the service and sacrifice of those who are still with us – especially my friend and colleague John McCain,” Senator Hirono said. “It does this man and our country no honor to insult Senator McCain or to make light of his service or his current battle with brain cancer. We must be much much better than this on this solemn day and every other day.”