HANAPEPE — Seigo Kagawa is six months old, and on Sunday was among those enjoying the 100th Infantry Battalion memorial service at the Kauai Veterans Cemetery.
“He’s named after his great-grandfather, Seigo Kagawa,” said the youngster’s mother, Melissa, whose grandfather is a battalion veteran. “He’s resting in the first row.”
The memorial service is hosted and presented by the West Kauai Club 100 that is comprised of descendants of 100th Infantry Battalion veterans, and traditionally observed on the closest Sunday to Sept. 26 when the military unit suffered its first casualty, when Sgt. Shigeo “Joe” Takata, advancing on an enemy machine gun, was hit by shrapnel, but fought off death long enough to tell others of the location of the gun.
The legacy of the veterans, none of the surviving capable of attending the service at the Kauai Veterans Cemetery, lived on through the sound of grandchildren and great-grandchildren like Kagawa, who was securely cradled in a baby vest.
“This is so special,” said a guest who preferred anonymity. “Every time I hear their names being recited, I can see their faces and I get to remember the good times when they worked together and played together.”
Other youngsters frolicked silently, while speakers gave their remarks, occasionally a child-like squeal escaping and punctuating the service that featured family members providing a flower toward the completion of the memorial wreath.
“The 100th became the most decorated unit in U.S. military history for its size and length of service,” said Capt. Tim Young, commander of the U.S. Navy Pacific Missile Range Facility at Barking Sands, the keynote speaker.
“The World War II generation is often referred to as our ‘greatest generation’ because they defeated fascism, and it seared into them that while they may not like everything that happens beyond our borders, our freedom is inextricably tied to the global situation.”
“But as the historian Mark Matsunaga has said, the main thing is this — the Americans who made up the 100th Battalion were from a far different Hawaii than we enjoy today,” Young said.
“At a time when they were doubted by most of their countrymen, they did their duty at great cost. Not one of them broke faith with America, and the nation and Hawaii is better because of them.
“Just over two centuries ago, will forever remain the ‘land of the free and the home of the brave’ so long as we never run out of tough young Americans like those in the One Puka Puka who were willing to look beyond their own self interest and go into the darkest and most dangerous places on earth to hunt down those who would do others harm,” Young said.
“May all of our revered veterans of the 100th Infantry Battalion find peace, and that the America they so loved and protected, and were willing to give their lives for, is forever worthy off their sacrifices,” Young concluded.
Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or firstname.lastname@example.org.