WAIMEA — “I don’t know,” was one of the answers Bill Honjiyo got from his grand-daughters.
That answer was in reply to his question, “What is a veteran?”
Another granddaughter told him, “Isn’t that an animal doctor?”
That dialog formed the base of Bill Honjiyo’s keynote address to students at the Waimea Canyon School Veterans Day assembly Thursday.
For some of the students, it was a time when they could create American flags and medals, while for others it was an enlightening experience, as they learned that five members of the school staff are veterans.
Honjiyo told the students that a veteran is someone who served in the armed forces during times of peace as well as during times of war.
At the end of the first modern global conflict, World War I, members of the U.S. Congress created Armistice Day as a day to remember the 117,000 U.S. servicemen killed in a year’s span during that conflict.
That date was established as the 11th day of the 11th month, to be observed at the 11th hour of that day. It was observed as Armistice Day until 1950, when the observance was changed to Veterans Day, in honor of the great sacrifices made during World War II.
Honjiyo said, “I am proud to be a person who served our country. It is an opportunity provided to our nation’s youth to serve the greatest country.”
He encouraged the students to study hard to become somebody whose decisions make a difference.
General Eric Shinseki is an example of one boy born on Kaua’i who rose to become a respected general, Honjiyo noted.
“I want each and every one of you to go out and thank a veteran on Veterans Day,” he encouraged the students. “And, if the veteran is married, give his wife a hug, because she stood right beside him while he was serving his country.”
As members of the staff from Waimea Canyon School were being recognized for their service to America, there were gasps as students realized that the teachers and school staffers they see daily are veterans.
And, on the faces of the veterans, the smiles grew a little larger, as they realized the sense of appreciation being extended to them by those young people through their gasps of enlightenment.
Deva Katir, Keali’i Holden, Edward Robinson, and Leslie Ibara all had their names read off by the day’s host and hostess, Michael Morris-Nix and Mariebeth Watanabe, respectively.
Major Victor Aguilar of the Waimea High School JROTC program noted that this was the first Veterans Day assembly for the school.
He attributed that to new Principal Glenda Miyazaki, who started a similar assembly while she was principal at Eleele School.
Aguilar said that the JROTC cadets presented the colors, performed taps, and offered a brief demonstration by members of the Drill Team during the Eleele School assembly on Wednesday, and, following the Waimea Canyon School program, headed to Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School for an assembly at that Puhi campus Thursday afternoon.
Aguilar also said the cadets —will be on hand today, Friday, Nov. 11, at 11 a.m. for the annual Veterans Day service at the Hanapepe Kaua’i Veteran’s Cemetery, and will wrap up a busy few days this Sunday, Nov. 13, at 8:30 a.m., by attending a special veterans tribute service at the Kalaheo Missionary Church.
- Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, may be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or firstname.lastname@example.org