LIHU‘E — In the shadow of controversy, civil disobedience, flag and draft card burning, and riots, these men served and died for their country.
On Saturday, the state and the county will salute and recognize these sons and daughters of Hawai‘i who were part of the 2.7 million soldiers who served in the Vietnam theater.
Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. met with a group of Kaua‘i Vietnam veterans Wednesday, acknowledging their heroism and contributions to the community.
“The Vietnam era veterans served their country under trying times and when they returned home, were never accepted as heroes or appreciated for their sacrifices,” Carvalho said.
“It was only in later years the public realized the Vietnam veterans were exceptional people and recognized them for their contributions to their communities and public service,” he said.
“Vietnam veterans stand above the rest when it comes to patriotism and for the love of America.”
The Vietnam War, which took place between 1964 and 1975, saw more than 9 million men and women serving on active duty in defense of America, 2.7 million serving in the Vietnam theater.
During that time, 58,000 were killed and 300,000 were wounded — a heavy price to pay with the lives of a promising generation, the Baby Boomers.
Following their return to a country who did not acknowledge their contributions and sacrifices, the Vietnam veterans fought for the recognition of Agent Orange as a major cause of illness and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as a disability caused by war.
Carvalho will be presenting a proclamation saluting the contributions Vietnam veterans have made and are continuing to make to the community, state and nation. The proclamation will be done following the Veterans Day parade which will take place in Kapa‘a on Saturday starting at 10 a.m.
The public is encouraged to come out and support and celebrate all of Kaua‘i’s veterans during this annual event which precedes the annual Veterans Day observance.
Following the parade where Vietnam veterans will be honored, Carvalho will make the presentation to the Vietnam era veterans, including Bill Honjiyo, commander of the Kaua‘i Veterans Council, and Ed Kawamura of Veterans Helping Veterans.
Carvalho will also honor the World War II veterans of the 100th Battalion, the 442nd Combat Regimental Team and the veterans of the Military Intelligence Service who, on Wednesday, will be honored by special ceremonies in Washington, D.C.
“This is a time to celebrate all veterans,” said Kawamura.
The Veterans Day parade will start at 10 a.m. in Kapa‘a town with staging areas established at both the All Saints Gym and at the Lihi Small Boat Harbor, Honjiyo said.
• Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or dfujimoto@ thegardenisland.com.