HONOLULU (KHON2) — The Mayor’s Memorial Day Ceremony returned to the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl. It’s the first time it’s been held since the pandemic began two years ago.

The event was streamed on Monday, May 30, at around 8:30 a.m.

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The 71st annual Mayor’s Memorial Day Ceremony was once again held at Punchbowl Cemetery with the public and special guests in attendance.

Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi, along with Nathan Serota of the Honolulu Department of Parks and Recreation and Gene Maestas of the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific were at the ceremony to honor those that served the nation.

For Blangiardi, this is his first opportunity as the mayor to deliver the message of gratitude.

“We stand together and forever in gratitude of the sacrifices of our men and women who gave their lives for our freedom and our country. God bless you and God bless America,” said Blangiardi. “Since 1948, the Mayor of the City and the County of Honolulu has marked Memorial Day here at Punchbowl. Helping to keep alive the stories of each of the sacrifices made by the men and women we honor here today.”

More than 60,000 Americans are laid to rest at Punchbowl. Speakers emphasize the importance of keeping alive the stories of courage and sacrifice.

“There are countless untold stories beneath every name carved on every gravestone living in souls and behind the eyes of every person here,” said Suzanne Vares-Lum, president of the East-West Center.

Mayor Blangiardi invited Gov. David Ige to say a few words at the memorial ceremony. For Ige, Punchbowl also has a personal connection. Both of his parents are now interred at the sacred site.

“These brave men and women helped shape our country, our economy, and our culture that enriches the state of Hawaii and the United States,” said Ige. “It is because of their sacrifice that we enjoy the freedom and democracy today. And while Memorial Day serves as a day to remember and honor those that fight for their country. Let us also take a moment to honor the men and women who choose to volunteer to defend our constitution and our nation.”

Both Mayor Rick Blangiardi and Gov. David Ige presented wreaths to the fallen soldiers at the ceremony.

General Charles Flynn of the U.S. Army was grateful for the moment to speak after the governor.

“We honor and thank them for their courage, their selfless service, and their sacrifices. They were and are the very best of us,” said Gen. Charles Flynn. Commander of the U.S. Army Pacific region. “More than 60,000 brave Americans are buried here. Sacrificing their lives for their country, their units and their comrades. I am grateful to share this morning with you.”

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The ceremony continued with gunshots fired in the air to remember those that served their country. And flags being held by the color guard and by a Honolulu policeman.