WAHIAWA, Hawaii -- It's become a tradition, an annual collected effort symbolizing community service and patriotic pride that brings together civilian members of all ages for Memorial Day.
This effort begins with members of the Wahiawa Rainbow Seniors Club in the days and weeks prior to our national day of remembrance, and concludes with more than 100 Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts assembling at dawn at Schofield Barracks to place lei and American flags at each Schofield Barracks Post Cemetery gravesite on Memorial Day morning.
-- Senior Pride
This year's goal for the Wahiawa Rainbow Senior members: produce 1,868 lei by Friday, May 22, for mid-afternoon pickup by members of the U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii Casualty Assistance Center.
Prior to pickup, almost two dozen seniors gathered each week during May to create basic ti leaf lei.
Rainbow Senior Vice President David Seeholzer said that using the sturdy and abundant ti leaf plants from the Wahiawa area provided an opportunity to work weeks ahead and allowed them to meet their quota.
When the club first began to participate, members crafted flower lei wreathes, but weather and market forces that supply the fresh flowers made the process too unpredictable.
By this final Friday, 48 club members "reported for duty" at the Wahiawa District Park Community Center for the final lei-making push. By that time there was already an estimated 1,400 completed, a significant sum made towards the final total.
"I had finished 276 ti leaf lei before I even got there (Friday)," said 86-year old club member Richard Sato.
Sato added that completing the job, with lei to spare, "gave us a good feeling."
-- Scouts Honor
The garlands were delivered to the Schofield Barracks Post Cemetery early morning, Memorial Day, where approximately 100 members of the community's Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts' troops, along with family members, first gathered at 5:45 a.m., and then respectfully placed the wreaths and miniature U.S. flags, at the gravesites.
Chief Warrant Officer 3 Tyson Martin of Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, has three members of his family in scouting, and all participated for a third time.
"(After a couple of years,) they have an appreciation for who these people were," said Martin, "and the sacrifices they have made."