LIHUE — “I don’t know anyone who is 99 years old,” said Genevieve “Jenny” Anderson. “I don’t know how to act. I’m moving a little slower, but I’m still moving.”
Anderson, at 99 years old, was the living treasure among the more than 50 veterans, their families, and supporters of veterans who gathered at the Kauai Veterans Center to celebrate the Fourth of July.
“She’s the oldest Boat Force operator,” said Jim Jung. “She is the oldest living person in the Women’s Coast Guard.”
The event opens the doors to the Kauai Veterans Center for any veteran needing a place to celebrate the birth of the nation, fielding the floor with information on veterans benefits and more.
“I would rather be here than behind a desk,” said Lynsay Connell of the St. Regis Princeville resort who had information on the Hire A Vet program. “We’ve always had the program, but this is good to bring awareness out into the community as well as get to meet the people like Ed Kawamura, commandant of the Kauai Veterans Council.”
Dignitaries flowed through the hall.
“As we celebrate Independence Day today, more than 1.3 million men and women are serving on active duty,” said Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard in remarks delivered by Kaulana Finn, her Kauai field officer. “We must never forget our debt owed to them, their families, and all who have bravely served our nation throughout our 241 years. It is their service and sacrifice that allows all of us to enjoy safety and security here at home.”
U.S. Coast Guard’s Keana Steinke and Devin Freeman were two who, despite not being on duty, came in uniform out of respect to Anderson.
Jung, himself a veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard, said he plans on attending the Kauai Hospice Concert in the Sky following lunch.
“Last year, I distributed about 150 small American flags to keiki at the concert,” Jung said. “I’m going to do this again, this year. It was a lot of fun, and the keiki get excited about receiving an American flag.”
Charlene Dorsey of the Kauai Veterans Council, said new this year, the United States Marine Corps League is opening up the doors in the evening for a barbecue chicken dinner, allowing veterans and their families a place to enjoy the neighboring fireworks display.
Kawamura reminded all of the upcoming events for veterans, including the Vietnam Era Veterans Welcome Home on Nov. 11 at the Kauai Marriott Resort and Beach Club.
“We need Vietnam veterans to register with the Kauai Veterans Council,” Kawamura said. “The Department of Defense knows who they are. But because of the privacy laws, we don’t know who they are, and if they do not register, they’ll remain unknown.”