Answering the call

HANAPEPE — About 10 percent of Kauai’s population, said Capt. Bruce Hay, is comprised of former and current soldiers.

“That’s a pretty impressive statistic that no other town of equal size, that I am aware of, has,” said the commanding officer of the Pacific Missile Range Facility in Mana. “So Kauai, in particular, answers the call of service and continues to do so.”

But they aren’t the only patriots and everyday heroes who deserve some thanks, he said.

“For every veteran, there is someone behind them who has doubled down with the responsibilities at home to enable their service,” Hay said Monday. “We, the veterans, received training to do our mission — our families did not. There’s no simulator for keeping the household running. There’s no computer-based training for moving them across the country solo.”

Nearly 150 people gathered at the Kauai Veterans Cemetery in Hanapepe in honor of Veterans Day and to remember those who served and those still serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.

The ceremony was attended by 60 veterans, including the island’s oldest veteran, 100-year-old World War II veteran Gabriel Cataluna, and members of 13 service organizations.

“Today, as we reflect on the blessings of our liberty, let us never forget that we cannot rightfully celebrate the joy of our freedom without remembering the great price paid for that freedom,” Mayor Bernard Carvalho, Jr. said to the crowd during the hour-long ceremony.

Commander Noberto Garcia of the Kauai Veterans Council said next year’s Veterans Day parade and ceremony may be held on the same weekend, with the ceremony at the Kauai Veterans Center, rather than the Kauai Veterans Cemetery.   

“In the past, these veterans have put on the parades and the ceremonies and have worked hard to do so with great success,” Garcia said. “Because I’ve been involved with it firsthand, it seems to me that our veterans are putting on the parade for themselves. What I would like to see is our community and citizens to come out and put on this parade for them, which is something that they really do deserve.”

• Darin Moriki, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0428 or dmoriki@thegardenisland.com. Follow him on Twitter at @darinmoriki.

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