(BIVN) – The Peace Day Parade returned to Honokaʻa this weekend after a hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and this year the event featured the effort to “Bring Auntie Ramona Home” from Gaza.
This media release was shared, along with video, by the Peace Day Parade organizers:
In Honoka‘a today, the Peace Day Parade returned for the first time in four years, and this time it was particularly poignant. Among the usual colorful and festive entries—Taiko drums, bon dancers, floats and marching units—one entry stood out.
Family members of Ramona Okumura, the Hawai‘i woman trapped in Gaza, carried her banner through the town she once called home. Ramona’s nieces and nephews have been working nonstop, in the islands and on the continent, to draw attention to her story. Their entry is the same as their social media hashtag, #BringAuntieRamonaHome.
“World events and the mission of the Peace Committee have taken a very personal turn for me and my family,” said parade organizer Miles Okumura. “My sister is stuck in the Gaza strip, where she volunteers every year as a prosthetics expert, helping children who’ve lost their limbs in the fighting. She got trapped in there when the current violence began, and now she and others cannot leave without a cease fire.”
Miles is Chair of the Peace Committee of Honoka‘a Hongwanji Buddhist Temple, who produces the annual parade, and puts the values of peace and compassion in action throughout the year. They provide hundreds of hot meals and grocery bags to the community each week; they have “adopted” families suffering from the war in Ukraine; and they offer various kinds of support to others in need.
The theme of this year’s parade was “Hometown Heroes,” in tribute to people like Katsu Goto, who spoke up for Hāmākua’s Japanese sugar workers in the 19th century, and was killed for his efforts to organize. A memorial monument to Goto is positioned near the Honoka‘a Library. Other heroes from then and now will be honored and remembered.
The Peace Day Parade began in 2007, as a way to bring community together in honor of the International Day of Peace (September 21). Peace Day in Hawai‘i was established through the efforts of a group of teens from the Hawai‘i United Federation of the Junior Young Buddhists Associations who lobbied the legislature and secured the signature of Governor Linda Lingle in 2007. Hawai‘i is still the only state with a permanent Peace Day that coincides with the United Nations International Day of Peace.
The Peace Day Parade has been sponsored by the County of Hawai‘i.