HONOLULU (KHON2) — On this Memorial Day, Hawaii joined the rest of the country to honor the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military.

With COVID-19 restrictions, the heartfelt ceremonies remain subdued.

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For the second year in a row the ceremony at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl was small due to pandemic protocols. Gov. David Ige and Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi presented a wreath to honor those who sacrificed their lives for our country. More than 60,000 people are laid to rest at Punchbowl.

At Schofield Barracks Post Cemetery about 100 people attended the solemn ceremony.

“Whether it’s a quiet moment of remembrance, a solemn visit to a memorial or cemetery or a ceremony with our community, we all pause today and honor and remember those who guarded our liberty,” said Col. Daniel Misigoy, commander of U.S. Army Garrison Hawaii.

Memorial Day was also an opportunity to honor a veteran who did so much for veterans across the country. The late Sen. Daniel Akaka pushed laws to make sure veterans received the benefits they deserve.

“These initiatives include modernizing the GI Bill to include veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and so many other measures,” said Ige.

“He was instrumental in making sure the invisible wounds of war, post traumatic stress disorder, PTSD, and traumatic brain injury or TBI, were expeditiously handled by by the Department of Veterans Affairs,” said Millanie Akaka Mattson, Sen. Akaka’s daughter.

A blessing and groundbreaking ceremony was held in Kapolei where the Daniel K. Akaka State Veterans Home will be built. It’s a 120-bed facility that will house and provide medical services. Family members say the senator himself suffered from PTSD after serving in World War 2, so he always made it a point to recognize the needs of Hawaii’s veterans.

“He had a special love for veterans because he was one of them and he knew each one carried their own version of the war and how it affected them,” said Mattson.

The veterans home is scheduled to be completed in April 2023.