SGI-USA Holds Annual Memorial Service
On May 18, 2008, more than 350 SGI-USA members from as far away as Florida and Chicago attended the annual memorial service in the Skyrose Chapel at Rose Hills Memorial Park near Los Angeles, California, USA. The one-hour ceremony began with the traditional offering of incense and prayers in memory of loved ones.
SGI-USA General Director Danny Nagashima shared examples of those who have lived their lives devoted to Buddhist practice and established the foundation for SGI-USA. Death, he said, is a natural part of life. He quoted from SGI President Daisaku Ikeda: "Refreshed by sleep, we wake again the next morning with renewed energy. Viewed in terms of life's eternity, death is the first step of the journey to a new existence." (Unlocking the Mysteries of Birth and Death, p. 100)
The 28-member SGI-USA Ikeda Kings Orchestra, with Music Director Bennie Maupin, performed several jazz arrangements, including "Windswept" and "To Life." Manager John Ford said: "We've played at every annual memorial service since the orchestra started in 2001. It's our opportunity to lift people's spirits and help in their remembrances of loved ones." Since 1998, SGI-USA members have gathered annually around USA's Memorial Day (late May) at the Oasis of Eternity at Rose Hills Memorial Park, set aside for their use, to conduct memorial services to pray for the eternal life of the deceased. With approximately 1,400 acres, Rose Hills Memorial Park is considered to be the largest single cemetery in the world.
[Adapted from an article in the May 30, 2008 issue of the World Tribune, SGI-USA; photos courtesy of The World Tribune]