70th Annual Mayor’s Memorial Day Ceremony to host Chief of Naval Operations

Local News
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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 is honored to present the 70th Annual Mayor’s Memorial Day Ceremony at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (“Punchbowl”), or Pūowaina in Hawaiian.

This year we are privileged to host Admiral John M. Richardson, Chief of Naval Operations at the remembrance ceremony. Along with being the Navy’s highest ranking officer, Admiral Richardson has a long career in the armed services, including commanding the USS Honolulu while stationed on O‘ahu. He currently serves on the Joint Chiefs of Staff; is a naval aide to the President; prospective commanding officer instructor for Commander, Submarine Forces, U.S. Pacific Fleet; assistant deputy director for Regional Operations on the Joint Staff; director of Strategy and Policy at U.S. Joint Forces Command; and in numerous other advisory capacities.  

Admiral Richardson will provide remarks at this annual ceremony, scheduled to begin promptly at 8:30 a.m. on Monday, May 27. The ceremony is free and open to the public, and features several ceremonial presentations and tributes. Those include: speeches, color guard, presentation of wreaths, firearm salute, aircraft flyover, playing of taps, and performances from the Royal Hawaiian Band and Sounds of Aloha Chorus.

Unlike previous ceremonies, where the crowd faced Lady Columbia during the ceremony, this year’s ceremony will be organized with visitors facing in the opposite direction, towards the thousands of service members laid to rest in the memorial cemetery.

Parking within Punchbowl will be extremely limited. The public is encouraged to take advantage of TheBus and free parking at the Frank F. Fasi Municipal Parking Lot on Beretania Street, located conveniently across TheBus stop. TheBus routes will run from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. from the Alapaʻi Station to the Punchbowl. Regular fares and passes for TheBus will be in effect. Overflow parking is available at Abraham Lincoln Elementary School and Robert Louis Stevenson Middle School with courtesy shuttle service to the cemetery.  The Handi-Van reserved rides and licensed/marked taxi cabs will be allowed to drive into the cemetery for drop-offs.

Sunscreen and water are recommended for all visitors as covered seating is limited for the ceremony. Please do not bring chairinto the cemetery. 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.


Prior to the Memorial Day Ceremony, an estimated 38,000 lei will be made, donated, and placed on gravesites within the cemetery. To help meet this goal, the public will have several opportunities to donate their pre-made lei and share their lei-making skills or materials.

This year, Department of Parks and Recreation will be hosting a special weekend Sew a Lei event at the Kapolei Commons Theater Courtyard on Saturday, May 25 from 10 a.m to 1 p.m.

Prior to this event in Kapolei, there will be numerous locations across the island on Friday, May 24 where volunteers can help make lei without any prior lei-making experience. Lei-making workshops will be held from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the following locations:

  • Kailua District Park

  • Kīlauea District Park

  • Makua Aliʻi Senior Center

  • Mānoa District Park

  • Waialua District Park

  • Waiʻanae District Park

  • Waimānalo District Park

  • Waipahū District Park.

Also, on Friday, May 24, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., a lei-making event will be held at Honolulu Hale, featuring live music and hula performances. During all of these workshops the public is invited to drop-off fresh flowers or pre-made lei. Please rinse the flowers prior to any donation.

On Friday, purchased or donated lei can be dropped off at numerous locations across O‘ahu and throughout state. Those sites include:

  • All Honolulu Fire Department stations (from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.)
  • Some city parks and Federal Fire Department stations
  • Designated Department of Education school facilities.

Finally, lei donations will be accepted at Punchbowl cemetery from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday, May 24 and Saturday, May 25.

For a list of all of the lei drop-off locations and timetables, please visit the Department of Parks and Recreation’s special Memorial Day website by clicking here.

The Scouts of Hawaiʻi will be placing lei on every gravesite inside Punchbowl cemetery on Sunday, May 27 during their “Good Turn” event beginning at 1 p.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 devotionwhile serving in the Armed Forces. Since 1949, the City and County of Honolulu has been honored to work with numerous veteran, community, and educational organizations to help facilitate this time honored ceremony at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.

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