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Monday, May 22, 2023
Public invited to observe 72nd Mayor’s Memorial Day Ceremony
By News Release @ 11:21 PM :: 1825 Views :: Hawaii History, Military

Sew a Lei Sites 2023 flyer pic

Public invited to observe 72nd Mayor’s Memorial Day Ceremony

Ceremony begins Monday, May 29, 8:30 a.m. at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific

News Release from Office of the Mayor, May 22, 2023

O‘AHU – In honor of those who made the final, full measure of devotion while serving in the Armed Forces for the United States of America, the City and County of Honolulu and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs are honored to present the 72nd Mayor’s Memorial Day Ceremony at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Pūowaina (Punchbowl).

The ceremony is free and open to the public, beginning promptly at 8:30 a.m. on Monday, May 29. The event features several ceremonial presentations and tributes, including: oli, speeches, color guard, presentation of wreaths, firearm salute, F-22 aircraft flyover, playing of taps, performances from the Royal Hawaiian Band and Sounds of Aloha Chorus, and hula from the 94th Lei Court.

“As we mark this solemn day, remembering those who have served and sacrificed their lives for our freedom, it is incumbent for all Americans to be grateful for the many blessings their selfless sacrifices have bestowed upon our country,” said Mayor Rick Blangiardi, City and County of Honolulu. “History has proven it is not enough to win a war, it is absolute importance of preserving and protecting peace as the cherished objective. We live in a world today where the geopolitical climate has become increasingly tense and uncertain because of the oppressive war Russia initiated against Ukraine, and the unprecedented build-up of China’s military force. We remember on this Memorial Day all those who paid the ultimate price in protecting our country, because we simply must never forget the price of freedom.”

For those unable to attend this in-person ceremony, ‘Ōlelo will broadcast the entire event live Monday, May 29 beginning 8:30 a.m. on ‘Ōlelo 49. The broadcast will re-air on the same channel on the following dates & times:

June 7 at 6 p.m.
June 8 at 8 a.m.
June 11 at 1 p.m.
June 12 at 2 p.m.

For those attending the ceremony, parking within Pūowaina for this ceremony will be extremely limited. Additional public parking is available at two nearby schools: Abraham Lincoln Elementary and Robert Louis Stevenson Middle. Parking at these three locations is available beginning at 7 a.m. Courtesy shuttle service to Pūowaina from these schools is available. Handi-Van reserved rides and marked taxi cabs will be allowed to drive into the cemetery for drop-offs.

Public parking is also available at the Civic Center Parking Structure, with special TheBus route 123 service from the nearby Alapa‘i Transit Center up to Pūowaina. The first bus from Alapa‘i Transit Center will depart 7 a.m. with three additional trips to Pūowaina leaving every 20 minutes. The final bus will depart at 8 a.m. Return trips from Pūowaina to Alapa‘i will begin promptly at the end of the ceremony. Parking is free, but regular bus fares apply. 

Sun protection (sunscreen, hats, UV protective clothing) and water are recommended for all visitors as covered seating is limited for the ceremony. Umbrellas are allowed within Pūowaina, but please do not bring chairs unless medically required. No pet animals are allowed only certified service animals. Drones or unmanned aerial vehicles are strictly prohibited within and around Pūowaina. Reserved seating will be offered to veterans and invited guests. Remaining seats will be offered to the public on a first come, first served basis.

Those who plan to visit and pay their respects to gravesites within the cemetery are encouraged to visit the Saturday or Sunday before Memorial Day or after 12 noon on Monday to avoid traffic congestion from the ceremony.


For over seven decades the City and County of Honolulu has honored a solemn promise to adorn every grave at Pūowaina with a fresh lei for Memorial Day. This uniquely Hawaiian display of gratitude is our way of saying “mahalo” to our veterans for their service. Now we need your help to commemorate their sacrifice by helping us make and gather 38,000 lei for every servicemember laid to rest at the cemetery. Along with this significant task, the City is hoping to assist the Hawai‘i State Veterans Cemetery in Kāne‘ohe with their Memorial Day ceremony by donating extra lei to help them adorn the graves of the 15,000 servicemembers laid to rest on those hallowed grounds. To reach these remarkable goals, you are invited to donate lei (made of fresh flowers/ti leaf, measuring 20-22 inches untied, please tie), lei flowers (preferably plumeria or crown flower), Anthurium bouquets, or attend one of the lei-making opportunities below. 

Lei Sewing (may also drop off pre-made lei and flowers at these sites)

25-May Kāne‘ohe Community & Senior Center   10:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
26-May Ala Pu‘umalu Community Park  9 a.m. - 1 p.m.
26-May Booth District Park  9 a.m.  - 1 p.m. 
26-May Ho'omaluhia Botanical Garden   9:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
26-May Honolulu Hale  10 a.m. - 1 p.m. 
26-May Kailua District Park  9 a.m. - 12 p.m.
26-May Kalākaua District Park  9 a.m. - 1 p.m. 
May 26  Kapolei Hale   9 a.m. - 12 p.m. 
26-May Kīlauea District Park  9 a.m. - 12 p.m.*
26-May Makua Aliʻi Senior Center  9 a.m. - 12 p.m.
26-May McCully District Park  9 a.m. - 12 p.m. 
26-May Mililani District Park  9 a.m. - 12 p.m.
26-May Wahiawā Botanical Garden  9:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
26-May Waiʻanae District Park  9 a.m. - 12 p.m.
26-May Waiau District Park  9 a.m. - 12 p.m.
26-May Wailupe Community Park   9 a.m. - 12 p.m.*
26-May Waimānalo District Park   9 a.m. - 12 p.m. 
26-May Bill Balfour Jr. Waipahū District Park  9 a.m. - 12 p.m.
    * = until flowers run out


Lei Drop-off Locations

All Federal and City Fire Stations   Friday, May 26 from 8 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Hālawa District Park  Friday, May 26 from 9 a.m. - 12 p.m.
Booth District Park  Friday, May 26 from 9 a.m. - 12 p.m.
National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific  Friday, May 26 & Saturday, May 27 from 8 a.m – 6 p.m.
Parks Permit Office (1st floor FMB)  Friday, May 26 from 9 a.m. - 1 p.m.
KTA Super Store in  Kailua-Kona Tuesday, May 23 & Wednesday, May 24 from 6 a.m. - 9 p.m. 
Thursday, May 25 from 6 a.m. - 12 noon
KTA Super Store in Puainako, Hilo Tuesday, May 23 & Wednesday, May 24 from 5:30 a.m. - 9 p.m. 
Thursday, May 25 from 5:30 a.m. - 12 noon
KTA Super Store in Waimea Tuesday, May 23 & Wednesday, May 24 from 6 a.m. - 8 p.m. 
Thursday, May 25 from 6 a.m. - 12 noon


The Scouts of Hawaiʻi will place the lei from the “Sew a Lei for Memorial Day” effort and an American flag on every grave within Pūowaina on Sunday, May 28 during their Good Turn Event at 1 p.m.

Following the Memorial Day Ceremony, the Scouts will return to Pūowaina to remove the lei and American flags. Volunteers are encouraged to join in this effort on Tuesday, May 30 beginning at 9 a.m.

Now celebrated on the last Monday of May, the first form of Memorial Day in the United States began after the Civil War as a day to honor and remember those who made the final full measure of devotion while serving in the Armed Forces. Following WWII, Pūowaina was designated the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific with the first Memorial Day Ceremony held within the crater in 1949. Since that first humble ceremony, City and County of Honolulu has been honored to work with numerous veteran, community, and educational organizations to help facilitate this time-honored tradition.

For the most updated information concerning this time-honored ceremony, please visit the Honolulu Department of Parks and Recreation’s special Mayor’s Memorial Day website:

If you need an auxiliary aid/service, other accommodations due to a disability, or an interpreter for a language other than English in reference to this announcement, please contact the Honolulu Department of Parks and Recreation at (808) 768-3003 on weekdays from 7:45 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. or email at least three business days before the scheduled event. Without sufficient advanced notice, it may not be possible to fulfill requests.




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