Saturday’s Veterans Day Parade in Lihue was, in a word, outstanding.
It had almost everything you could want: veterans, flags, marching bands, vintage cars, cute kids, military representatives, friendly folks on horses and county leaders. It was, in just under 30 minutes, a well-organized event with nearly 40 organizations. That is just what you hope for in such a spirited, community gathering.
A huge mahalo to those who spent many hours preparing and planning this parade. There was only one thing missing that would have put an exclamation point on this patriotic parade: a big crowd.
While there were enthusiastic people lined up on Rice Street, there were too many long stretches of vacant space, which was a bit disappointing. It would have been nice for our veterans to be greeted by the roars and applause of the very people they protected with their military service. Our veterans have given much without asking for anything in return.
The theme of this year’s Veterans Day parade was “Honoring Generations of Service to America.” It featured several grand marshals paying tribute to veterans who have served during all the major wars and conflicts since World War II. Several veterans were given special recognition, including Quentin Belles and Jiro Yukimura, veterans from World War II; Royce Ebesu representing the Korean War; Wilbert Pereira representing the Vietnam War; Daniel DeGracia from Operation Desert Storm; Lorenzo Gonzalez from Operation Enduring Freedom; and Johnette Chun from Operation Iraqi Freedom.
We understand weekends are busy times and everyone has many commitments and can’t make it to every community celebration. Everyone does their best with the time they are given. It could be that many people were simply unaware there was a Veterans Day Parade that started at Vidinha Stadium, followed Rice Street and ended near the Historic County Building. Perhaps next year, with improved publicity and increased efforts on our part to raise awareness of this honorable parade, a larger crowd will turn out.
We would still point out that our veterans are some of the very best and bravest and most giving people you will ever come across on this Earth. They would never ask for for it — they might even avoid it because they often are so humble — but we would love to see them receive the accolades and appreciation they deserve each and every day.
Veterans Day is Nov. 11. If you can, please take time on this date to pay tribute to some of this country’s finest people.