Edward Kawamura Sr. wasn’t interested in being labeled a “Hometown Hero.”
Kawamura, the owner of Kawamura Farms, felt getting named such an honor comes from a place of ego, which doesn’t exemplify the Aloha Spirit.
Admittedly, Kawamura didn’t know much about this “Hometown Hero business,” but reluctantly agreed to sit down with The Garden Island to discuss the many motivating factors to his volunteering.
Using a glass of water as his elevator pitch and a book titled: “You’re Not Sick, You’re Thirsty” that tackled subject matters about the ailments experienced as a bi-product of dehydration to drive home the underlying genesis of what drives him to help the community of Kaua‘i.
Referring to his jug of medical-grade water he references as “magic water,” which is symbolic of his belief system of a man’s purpose.
“We are put on this earth to help others,” Kawamura said.
Kawamura is part of a dying breed. He is a Vietnam War veteran who experienced mental and emotional scars from combat he will carry with him forever.
Hailing from old Hawai’i, before it was designated part of the United States on August 21, 1959, Kawamura never lost the mentality he learned as a youngster to put in twice as much work as everyone else to be able to be accepted as an American.
Kawamura is a man of pride. He wears Hawaiian, his Japanese heritage, his time served in the military and his patriotism on his sleeve.
Having faced combat, Kawamura knows he is one of the few and the proud to still have his mind and limbs intact.
Since the late 70s, Kawamura has volunteered to help veterans that were not as fortunate as him in a variety of ways.
Kawamura felt there were two primary reasons veterans suffer to transition into society when they return home.
One reason is they suffer is the emotional attrition from combat. The second is trying to get acclimated to civilian life, which is not as regimented as military life, making it a difficult transition.
Kawamura, who is part of the Kaua‘i Veterans Council, helping to ensure veterans are taken care of.
According to Kawamura, every American should be obligated to serve in the military for one year, similar to what citizens do for their country in France.
Kawamura is concerned with COVID-19 cutting so many veteran’s lives short on O‘ahu and the Big Island.
Kawamura thinks one simple solution could help veterans in a vulnerable state because of COVID-19: drink more water.
Maintaining the proper level of hydration could help provide vulnerable groups with an adequate immune system.
Kawamura also helps veterans get adequate treatment for the mental and emotional trauma they have suffered as a result of a lifetime of combat and transitioning from a regimented military lifestyle to civilian life.
Kawamura has launched a Sponsor a Veteran Campaign” to showcase gratitude to veterans and raise money for the Kaua’i Veterans Council.
The broken systems that haven’t allowed veterans to get adequate care after they serve this country are something Kawamura continues to work to change.
Kawamura is devoted to getting the veterans something that he declared was promised to them when they began serving this country: that they would be taken care after devoting their life to servicing the country.
This is a promise Kawamura still makes an effort to help the country deliver.
Kawamura’s commitment to veterans could be seen by all when in June of 2017 the state devoted its first highway to veterans.
The new highway sign which formalizes the changing of a section of Kapule Highway to the Kaua‘i Veterans Memorial Highway.
“This is not just for Vietnam (War) era veterans,” Kawamura told The Garden Island in a 2017 interview. “This is ‘thank you’ for all veterans who gave service to our country. This is the first sign in Hawai‘i where a section of roadway is dedicated to veterans. This is similar to the Kaua‘i Veterans Center, which is a home for veterans and their families — we on Kaua‘i were the first to have one.”
Kawamura is an advocate for veteran rights. He just wants to give veterans the rights they deserve, something they were promised years ago.
Jason Blasco, reporter, can be reached at 245-0437 or firstname.lastname@example.org