Hundreds cheer Veterans Day Parade

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island Lelan Nishek of Kauai Nursery AND Landscaping, a veteran of the U.S. Navy involved in the Cuban missile crisis and ship blockade, rides Cinco in the Veterans Day Parade Saturday.
  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island The M.A.S.H. crew greets the audience from atop the American Legion Post 54 truck Saturday during the Veterans Day Parade.
  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Wilcox Elementary School students in the Performing Arts Program wave American flags high while marching in the Veterans Day Parade Saturday along Rice Street in Lihue.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island U.S. Marine J.Q. Smith, who will celebrate his 91st birthday Nov.10, gets help from Vet Center representatives in finishing the Veterans Day Parade Saturday along Rice Street in Lihue.
  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island Nathan Bennor stops to thank U.S. Navy color guardsmen as Tiffany Bernades of the Marriott International unit looks on Saturday after the Veterans Day Parade at the Historic County Building in Lihue.

LIHUE — “I made it!” J.Q. Smith said Saturday under the shade of a monkeypod tree at the Historic County Building. “I’m 91 years old, and I wanted to march in the parade.”

Smith, a U.S. Marine, will turn 91 years old on Nov. 10, the same date as the U.S. Marine Corps’ birthday.

Smith took his place among those marching for the Kauai Vet Center, one of more than 50 units in the annual Veterans Day Parade hosted by the Kauai Veterans Council before hundreds of people who lined Rice Street to honor veterans and active-service military personnel.

“He’s a veteran of three wars,” a spectator said. “He’ll do the parade at his own pace, and he’ll finish.”

Smith did indeed march the parade at his own pace, being passed by other parade units, including several bands from the high schools and intermediate schools.

“This is great to see everyone come out in support of veterans,” said Ed Kawamura Sr., commandant of the Kauai Veterans Council. “Today we see a lot of young people being inspired for the future.”

Kauai Fire Department Chief Robert Westerman and Kauai Council Chair Mel Rapozo served as grand marshals.

Westerman, a Vietnam War veteran, said it is natural for veterans to be involved in the community.

“One thing about veterans is to give back to the community,” Westerman said. “It’s the nature of a veteran. There are many in the community who continue to provide service, and people don’t know they are veterans.”

Rapozo, retired from the Air Force, said he was honored to be selected a grand marshal, and spoke of respect for the American flag.

The Kauai Veterans Council hosts its Veterans Day service on Saturday — the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month — at the Kauai Veterans Cemetery in Hanapepe.


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