Memorial Day, 2010
Memorial Day must be near, ads for grills and recipes for ribs are filling up pages of the Sacramento Bee.
A few days ago, we bought a Sago palm. My parents’ house always had a Sago Palm in the front yard. It was a plant nourished and cherished by my father. I grew up thinking it was a plant to be spiritually honored because it was referred to as a thousand-year-old plant and my child’s mind believed it had lived for a thousand years.
When eruption forced the evacuation of our village, I was not there and no one thought of saving my shoe box of childhood secrets and poems hidden in my closet, but the Sago Plant was dug and taken to the next relocated home site. And there it grew above my height.
The house and palm are no longer there but another now grows in our front yard.
Putting aside grills and hot dogs, this is a weekend for remembrance and honor. During my 6 years in Hawaii’s schools, I, along with all the students in our elementary schools, sewed a fresh flower lei and took it to school on the Friday before Memorial Day. These thousands of leis were flown by the National Guard to the National Memorial Cemetery at Punchbowl on Oahu. Boy Scouts in crisp uniform placed a lei on each grave site of each fallen soldier. I imagine children taking leis to schools today as they have done traditionally since 1949. May the number of leis not be increased beyond the over 30,000 grave sites today, as we live with hope for peace.
To all my ancestors from Hiroshima to Hawaii, each new leaf of the Sago Palm will bear your name.