So many lanterns. So many names.
There is a ceremony that takes place prior to the floating of the lanterns. VIPs are introduced. Drums are played, hulas are danced. Prayers are said. The flame is lit and the main lanterns are escorted to the catamarans to be floated in the bay prior to the individual lanterns. Once the bell is rung, the individual lanterns are floated. The floating is quiet. Aside from the noise of the children, there isn't much talking. People leave those around them to their thoughts and memories.
I saw people with lanterns commemorating parents, grandparents, siblings, and friends. I saw many lanterns with thoughts and prayers for those enduring hardships from natural disasters. The man standing next to me took his dog tags off, placed them inside the lantern, and floated it off in memory of his platoon leader and several of his friends who had been lost in Iraq.
We left shortly after that - it was time for dinner. But I know from years past that most people are loath to leave, wanting to linger and revel in the memory of those they've lost. I know I did. But life goes on and pulls the living along with it most of the time. I am grateful that we were able to be here for one more year and that I was able to get down to float my names. In the post below, I forgot a name...Alan Wendell Gunn, you are not forgotten. Your name was on that lantern too.