HANAPEPE — Someone said the Korean War veterans should not be wearing their commemorative shirts too much.
“But I like wearing this shirt,” said Bobby Tamura during Monday’s annual Veterans Day service at Kauai Veterans Cemetery. “Most of the World War II veterans aren’t able to be here, and even us — there’s only five of us here.”
Shaded by a young coconut tree, Johnson Koo, a veteran, was bathed by the cooling trade winds as he watched the Boy Scouts decorate each grave with an American flag and lei.
“I was just thinking,” Koo said. “We don’t recognize the service the veterans and others do enough.”
These were just a handful of people in the sea of hundreds that turned out for the annual Veterans Day service that this year was split into two celebrations — the traditional cemetery service and a luncheon to follow at the Kauai Veterans Center.
“On this Veterans Day, across Hawaii, the country, and all over the world, we as Americans stand united in honoring the bravery and heroism of those whose selfless service affords us the opportunity to enjoy the freedoms we have today,” said Kaulana Finn, Kauai liaison for Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard. “This day, this place, these heroes, they give us perspective.”
She said all people, veterans and civilians alike, share a responsibility to honor those who made that ultimate sacrifice.
“We should be grateful for the breath in our bodies, life in our souls, and for the blessings that surround us,” Finn said.
Up the road, about 30 volunteers from Layton Construction, the Kauai Habitat for Humanity, and future homeowners enjoyed a midday break from toiling in the sun.
Layton Kauai was partnering with Habitat for a work day, said Mia Checkley, Layton Kauai office manager.
The group worked on shingling, siding, framing, and erecting walls. The result of the work day pushed Kauai Habitat ahead of schedule by two weeks.
She said Layton Construction was founded by World War II veteran and Purple Heart recipient Alan W. Layton in 1953.
“Military veterans have always been at the heart of our company and its success,” she said.