‘We should never forget’

“This is something people must do,” said Aunty Janet Kahalekomo who had four generations of her family at the at the Hanapepe Veterans Cemetery Monday. “My husband Abraham, 

a Vietnam veteran, is buried here and the children, especially the young great-grandchildren, must remember what people have done so they can live the happy lives they have.”

Hundreds of people flowed through the cemetery, arms laden with loads of flowers as they remembered veterans and their families at the Memorial Day services hosted by the Women in Military with support from the Kauai Veterans Council. The music of Mele Kapuuwaimai, a choral group made up of Leeward Community College students directed by Marilyn Kim, wafted through the whispers of wind.

“I was at the Kauai Veterans Center this morning, and while lowering the flag to half-staff, I had to wonder where we would be without the sacrifices made by all of these people,” said Johnette Chun, Kauai Veterans Council adjutant and one of the organizers of the service. “We should never forget, and we should never let the children forget those who allow us to be able to sleep safely at night.”

Under the canopy of one of the shade trees, Uncle Louie Almodova, 97, quietly reflected on his own military tenure while looking over the sea of graves decorated with American flags, and a lei courtesy of the Boy Scouts from Troops 83 and 148.

Almodova said he and Monty Nishie, 98, of the 100th Infantry Battalion, were in the first draft on Dec. 10, 1940.

“Monty went off with the 100th,” Almodova said. “I got to come back and was on a troop ship in Honolulu where we took care of prisoners.”

Sen. Mazie Hirono, one of several keynote speakers who paid tribute to Kauai veterans, said she always tells people the best way to honor the sacrifice by veterans is to give back to the community.

In keeping with the theme of Women in the Military, the Waimea High School JROTC units, including its all-female color guard, was comprised of primarily females.

“This is a volunteer thing,” said Sgt. Major Keith Castaneda. “We put the call out and these are the people who turned out. They wanted to do this.”

Ashley Buyat commanded the all-female color guard with rifle bearers Grachel Singson and Keesha Malabe. Junnell Tolentino and Mae Anne Buyat joined Ashley in presenting the colors at the Monday service.

“When I saw the all-girl color guard, it nearly brought tears to my eyes,” said Charlene Dorsey, one of the event coordinators. “And, to find out they volunteered for this? Having this tribute to women in the armed forces and military has been such an uplifting experience, bringing recognition to what women can do.”

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