By Simplicio Paragas
Isle resident to lay wreath at The Wall
For many, the Memorial Day weekend represents beach time, barbecue and perhaps a visit to a cemetery to honor those who have died in military service. This year, though, Nuuanu resident Billie Gabriel will celebrate the occasion solemnly in Washington, D.C., where she has been invited to place a wreath at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, also known as The Wall.
“It will be more emotional than I thought,” says Gabriel by phone from Washington, D.C. “Right now there are 58,272 names on the wall but 10 more will be added on Monday.”
Among the names is James Kimo Gabriel, Jr., Billie’s brother who was the first Native Hawaiian and Green Beret to be killed in Vietnam. “I still miss him even though it’s been more than 50 years since his passing,” says Gabriel, who spearheaded a grassroots effort to locate photographs of isle troops who were killed in action in Vietnam as part of a national effort to display the photos in the future Education Center at The Wall. “That’s why this project is very personal for me.”
Families or friends who would like to submit photos for the "Hawaii Call For Photo" can call 497-7264 for more information.