Veterans celebrate America’s birth

LIHUE — Veterans and their families enjoyed each other’s company Saturday during the annual Veterans Roundup at the Kauai Veterans Center.

“I came because it is an anniversary,” said Joseph Lee, a Korean War veteran who just celebrated his 91st birthday. “I came because we honor all veterans, and this is a reminder to stay in fellowship with our comrades.”

Lee said the number of veterans are dwindling.

“Most of the Korean War veterans are from Oahu,” Lee said. “I retired to Kauai because it is such a friendly place. This is a good turnout, today.”

There was also a good turnout over at Vidinha Stadium, where thousands of people enjoyed Kauai Hospice’s 26th annual Concert in the Sky, featuring a 3D fireworks show and live music.

The dwindling number of veterans Lee spoke about was reason for recognition of another group, the Kauai Veterans Honor Guard.

Due to a shortage of volunteers and dwindling support, the Honor Guard has not performed since March 1, said Tony Elliott, the Veterans’ Service counselor.

The Honor Guard added dignity to a veteran’s passing and honors a tradition which started with the Napoleonic Wars, Elliott said.

“Regardless of the land of origin, place of birth, race, or religion, these dedicated veterans who themselves have served shoulder to shoulder with brave men and women throughout our nation’s history, represent true ‘Americanism’ which comes from one’s spirit, conviction, and love of freedom,” Elliott said.

Elliott said for more than 25 years, members of the Kauai Veterans Honor Guard have accepted the sacred obligation of honoring Kauai’s deceased veterans by performing exact time-honored duties in the best of military tradition.

The Kauai Veterans Honor Guard includes Norman Braun, Stewart Burley, Adam Carvalho, Michael Ciron, Alfonzo Garcia, Edward Generalao, Benjamin Kali, Richard Kashiwabara, Randolf Keliikuli, Gary Morita, Norvin Olivas, Donald Rapozo, Sixto Tabay and Bradley Turner.

In addition to the special recognition certificate, a section of the Kauai Veterans Center has been dedicated to the service of these dedicated veterans.

Edward Kawamura, commandant of the Kauai Veterans Council, called on Stanford Morinaka of S.T.Morinaka Construction to accept a photo of veteran Leonard Morris enjoying his mobility due to a special ramp built through the efforts spearheaded by Morinaka to accommodate Morris’ wheelchair. The project was also aided through a grant from The Home Depot Foundation and Honsador Lumber.

Elliott said while the country celebrates Independence Day, there have been generations of patriots who have upheld the responsibility of guarding the same freedom celebrated by others.

“Today, we assemble in their honor,” Elliott said. “Today, we assemble in your honor — the American Veteran, Keepers of Peace.”

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