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Thank you, veterans!

HANAPEPE — “Thank you for your service” was personal to Gen. Kenneth Hara, the grand marshall of the Kaua‘i Veterans Council Veterans Day Parade last week.

“Thank you for your service.” Just five words were uttered by Mayor Derek Kawakami on Friday when the Kaua‘i Veterans Council with Commander retired Gen. Mary Kay Hertog presented the annual Veterans Day Service before several hundred people on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month at the Kaua‘i Veterans Cemetery.

“Thank you for your service” was the silent message borne by volunteers like the Girl Scouts, who supplemented the effort by the Grand Hyatt Kaua‘i Resort &Spa in decorating the growing number of graves and niches at the newly expanded cemetery in Hanapepe, the Lonesome Grave group providing many floral arrangements, and the Scouts of America assisting the cemetery’s caretaker in sprucing up the area.

“Thank you for your service” carried on the notes of “Taps” being played by bandmaster Sarah Tochiki, and the unnoticed 96-year-old Sunset Swing Band trombone player Bill Bryner, the sole surviving mounted rider of a cavalry unit.

“Thank you for your service” rode on the sounds of MC2 Samantha Jetzer’s camera as she tailed Capt. Brett Stevenson, commander of the U.S. Navy Pacific Missile Range Facility as a member of the PMRF Public Affairs Office while Stevenson attended the service to represent.

Those words rang loud and clear in the actions of other people who spent the day working to honor the sacrifices of veterans so people could enjoy the holiday in America.

Groups like the Scouts of America which, under the current Veterans Affairs guidelines are restricted to just Memorial Day to display the American flags on graves, spent time during the service to set up tables and refreshments at the cemetery’s multi-purpose building; the mayor’s Protocol Officer Kaleo Carvalho, who joined Kimi Blaum in stepping out of rank to secure the wreaths against the stronger-than-usual trade winds that blanketed the cemetery.

“Thank you for your service” guided the actions of the Waimea High School JROTC Color and Honor Saber units in the crisp, full-dress protocols of honor, and the breaking formation by Miss Kaua‘i Veteran Rayna Shafter to pick up a flower fallen from a wreath.

Those five words guided a lot of people in their line of work at many places away from the cemetery.

“Veterans Day is not just today,” Kawakami said, echoing the words of Hara from last week. “Veterans Day is every day.”


Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 808-245-0453 or
Source: The Garden Island

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