HANAPEPE — Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard said via her Kauai representative that it is the sacrifice and dedication of our nation’s 23 million veterans that we owe our deepest gratitude to Saturday during the Veterans Day service presented by the Kauai Veterans Council at the Kauai Veterans Cemetery.
“I’ve experienced firsthand the depth of selflessness and commitment that the men and women of our armed forces possess — not only for their country, but for one another,” Gabbard said in remarks presented by Kaulana Finn, her constituent outreach liaison. “We would not be the country that we are today without their sacrifice and service.”
The congresswoman, a soldier in the Hawaii Army National Guard and a veteran of two Middle East deployments, is visiting Maui to celebrate Vietnam veterans on the 50th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam war.
“Veterans Day is special to me,” she said. “It’s a day when I often get to spend time with fellow veterans from many different generations, share stories and remember our brothers and sisters who never made that long trip home. We will never forget.”
About 500 people attended the ceremony that started at 11:11 a.m. and lasted a little over an hour on a sunny day.
Capt. Vincent Johnson, commander of the U.S. Navy Pacific Missile Range Facility at Barking Sands, spoke briefly about dedication, commitment and sacrifice of veterans, and called on people to do their best for their country.
“What are you doing to serve?” he asked.
Members of the Waimea High School JROTC donned their dark formal colors for the ceremonial presentations, and the lighter-duty uniforms for those who also participated with the Waimea High School band.
“Today is special,” said JROTC Sgt. Maj. Keith Castenada. “We wear the formal uniforms because it is the 50th anniversary commemoration for the Vietnam veterans. It might be a little hot, but we do this to honor them.”
George Inouye was one of the Vietnam veterans enjoying the service in the shade of a tree near the flag planted in the center of the cemetery.
“I got a new flag,” Inouye said. “I got it from the Navy exchange. It said the flag was 3 by 5, but when I looked at it, it was 4 by 6.”
The flag made an appropriate backdrop to the rifle honor squad, members of the C Troop, 1-200 Cavalry, Hanapepe, and its bugler.
“This is more than one week a month,” said Makaiwa Gunn of the Hawaii Army National Guard. “These men do this to give back to the community. They do this, and the services for veterans because they give back to the community. It’s beyond the one week a month.”
Gabbard said veterans should inspire everyone every day.
“They have shown us through their example, and their lives, what ‘service and sacrifice’ really means, and how we can all find ways to set aside our own differences, respect and treat each other with aloha, and work together for the good of our communities, our country, and humanity,” she said.