To all who wore their country’s cloth, you are remembered…Oldest Son again helped to decorate graves at Oahu Cemetery, where veterans from the Civil War to the Modern Day lie at rest.
(Shameless “proud Dad picture”…Oldest Son has volunteered every Saturday before Veteran’s Day since he was three to ensure none will lie forgotten.) Our group, the Hawaii Civil War Round Table, has taken on the marking of graves of non-US and foreign-born veterans in the spirit of “Armistice Day.” Hence he carries the Federal German and Austrian flags in his waistbelt.
Our organizational predecessors, the Grand Army of the Republic, received a plot from His Royal Hawaiian Highness King David Kalakau. Crown Princess Victoria Kaiulani attended at least one Decoration Day event here, as did Confederate veterans. To date, we have not located any Confederate veterans’ graves, however.
There are men of storied regiments resting here. Of particular interest to us, given our own heritage, is German born veteran Luis Adler.
The “modern plot” contains numerous veterans from the late 1800-s through World War II, to include the Fallen of Pearl Harbor.
Throughout the cemetery there are notable veterans…Hawaii’s first to fall in the Great War…an ethnic Japanese female Marine veteran of the Korean War…unsung men who served in times of relative peace aboard forgotten ships and with forgotten regiments…a German masterchief of the Imperial Navy…
…and an Imperial Austrian Naval Officer…
The Commonwealth has left its veterans here, as well, and, historically, they have marked their own. Next year, I think, we shall have to take over their labor.
The man who brought us together and binds us to this cemetery lies alone amidst unmarked graves. Pvt. J.R. Kealoha, 41st US Colored Troops, is the only Native Hawaiian veteran of the Civil War that returned home and lies in a known, and, after more than a century, a marked grave.
The community rallied to mark his spot on the 150th Anniversary of his regiment’s commitment to combat (news clip). One group donated the allegedly scratched headstone. The local faith communities sent their leaders. The Royal Benevolent Societies attended in their regalia. State and local officials turned out in droves. Veterans groups answered to the call. And the last living descendant to talk to a Native Hawaiian Civil War veteran saw thirty years of her life’s work come to completion.
So, yes, it is a special place to gather, to remember, to say “Thank you,” to pass the baton…
…and to ensure that none are forgotten.