Memorial Service honors fallen veterans and Soldiers of the Pacific
October 2, 2011
HONOLULU, Hawaii -- Pins, patches, berets, medals and ribbons are all tokens of their sacrifice and remembrance. The members of this crowd have all given pieces of themselves to honor their country and the fallen who have fought for freedom. A veteran addresses the crowd, speaking only the 113 names of fallen veterans and Soldiers, their units and the wars they served in. These are the names of veterans of past wars and Soldiers of the Pacific who lost their lives this past year.
For the members of the 25th Infantry Division Association this is an annual event. Veterans, Soldiers, Family and friends all come to show their respect during the Memorial Service held at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific on Oct. 2 here.
"It's remembering their sacrifice," said Gary Dittmer, president elect of the 25th Infantry Division Association. "Most Americans don't serve, so it's important to remember the veterans and active duty troops that are killed in action."
A prayer was said by the 25th Infantry Division's chaplain, Chaplain Major Florio Pierre during which he spoke of the sacrifices made by the Soldier that volunteers to serve in America's military.
A wreath of flowers now rests upon the monument in memory of all those lives lost over the past year. It was placed there by Dittmer and the president of the 25th Infantry Division Association, Thomas A. Jones.
During the service, Soldiers of the 2nd Battalion, 11th Field Artillery performed an artillery salute in honor of the lives lost.
"We come here to remember fallen comrades," said Jones. "We know there are burials happening here about every week, and it is important to acknowledge our younger brothers that have given their lives."
Tears were no stranger to the crowd that gathered. It was apparent that emotions were running high during the name reading, which honored all 113 veterans and Soldiers that were lost during the past year.
Taps was played during the service. Every person in attendance stood and paid proper respect to the fallen.
"It's moving you know," said Dittmer. "You're not just remembering a name, it's a Soldier, it's a Family, and it's a whole community."
There were names he read today that he knew personally, said Jones. He had difficulty during his reading because he became a bit overwhelmed with the significance of the sacrifice he was there to honor.
While the association honors their fallen comrades every year during this memorial they want to remind those who will listen of the Soldiers who serve today in the Pacific.
"Not only the Army," said Jones. "The Navy, the Air Force and the Marine Corps are all providing a service to this country. These are a minority of the population that we owe a debt of gratitude that I don't know we can ever repay."
The cemetery contains a memorial pathway that is lined with a variety of memorials that honor America's veterans from various organizations. As of 2008, there were 56 such memorials throughout the cemetery, most commemorating soldiers of 20th-century wars, including those killed at Pearl Harbor.
The cemetery is open to the public daily for viewing of gravesites and memorials. More than 30 Medal of Honor recipients lay in rest within the cemetery, and all of their gravesites are available for viewing.