(BIVN) – Memorial Day ceremonies will look a lot different this year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
One example in East Hawaiʻi: Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3830 & Post Auxiliary are welcoming the island community – and beyond – to a “Virtual Ceremony” available for viewing on online.
“We are all doing our part to act in the interest of safety and COVID-19 restrictions that limit public gatherings,” stated an email from retired Col. Deb Lewis, Adjutant & Senior Vice Commander of VFW Post 3830. “We were forced to adjust our traditional plans to host a Memorial Day Ceremony at Hilo Veterans Cemetery #1. Instead of a public outdoor ceremony at the Pavilion, you will feel like you are there as you watch our Live Stream Video from the safety of your home.”
Col. Lewis also shared this information:
All Previous Ceremony Participants. A big mahalo to all community members, non-profits, Veterans who have made our ceremony so special year after year. Once the COVID-19 restrictions are fully lifted, we will return to our normal public invitations. Until then, please help us by refraining from physically approaching our ceremony site (Cemetery #1 pavilion and surrounding area) during set-up, ceremony, and clean-up (approximately 9 am- 11:30 am).
Additional Floral tributes may be placed around the monuments by the main flagpole at Veterans Cemetery #1 before 9 am or after 11am. We ask that you respectfully drive through and place the flowers yourself, maintaining social distancing and not congregating in the cemetery. Gravesites can be visited at any time during the day in compliance with Hawaii Parks & Rec guidelines.
Fly Over Planned – 9:00 am – 10:00 am. To honor our Veterans and families, Bob Arthurs, from EAA, is organizing a Memorial Day fly over aircraft pattern in Hilo for the hour prior to our Memorial Day Service.
Ti Leis Donated – This Memorial Day Weekend – the green Ti Leis you see around Hilo and placed on military monuments – Hilo Veteran Cemetery, the Vietnam and Korean in Wailoa State Park, King Kalakaua Park, and the WWI monuments around the downtown Federal Building and Post Office, were made with love by the dedicated staff & students of Waiākea High School to honor, respect, and acknowledge all our Veterans have done for our country.
Hilo Memorial Day Guest Speaker.
Please welcome our Guest Speaker Sergeant First Class (SFC) Aurelio P. Tumpap. He’s a great example of today’s military – committed to safeguard us, regularly asked to make sacrifices so we enjoy our lives. SFC Tumpap is currently the Readiness NCO and Platoon Sergeant for Detachment I, Company A, 3-140th Aviation Regiment, based in Hilo, HI. He and his family understand service above self and sacrifice. His grandfather served in the Army during WWII, his father served in the Army for 21 years, his brother is currently the commander for the 227th Brigade Engineer Battalion, and his sister took a slightly different path by joining the Air Force. She retired after 20 years.
Lucky to spend most of his youth in Hilo, Hawaii, SFC Tumpap initially entered military service in 1996 – in the Air Force. He served at Lackland AFB in Texas, Keesler AFB in MS,and Langley AFB in Virginia. Years later, he chose to join the Army through the Hawaii Army National Guard, and trained to be a UH-60 Helicopter Repairer. Since then, the NG has deployed him twice – first to Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom, followed by Kuwait in 2011 as a UH-60 Crew Chief. Today he is responsible for maintaining unit readiness, is in charge of the enlisted personnel during inactive Duty Training, and regularly supports tough local missions, to include response to Volcanic eruptions and now COVID-19.
In Flanders Fields. At the conclusion of our ceremony, our VFW Post Auxiliary President Pat Sauers will be reciting the well known poem “In Flanders Fields.” The red poppy is the official symbol of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. During these memorial ceremonies and during the year, red poppies are handed out to remind us of our fallen military. One way you can help memorialize, and honor our fallen and their families is to remind everyone, especially our keiki that “Freedom isn’t Free”. Here is the poem you can recite along with Pat, followed by the story behind it.
Meanhwile, Senator Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) issued the following statement honoring the lives and service of Hawaii’s fallen service members in observance of Memorial Day:
“On Memorial Day, our nation comes together to honor the lives and sacrifices of the service members who have fallen in service to their country. As a state with strong ties to the military, we recognize that just as we commemorate those we’ve lost, we must continuously reaffirm our commitment to supporting the families and loved ones they’ve left behind. While the COVID-19 pandemic has forced the cancellation of our traditional remembrance ceremonies, we can still join with one another to pay homage to those we’ve lost and reflect on their enduring legacy. During this pandemic, we can demonstrate that by doing our part to keep our communities safe.”