Hawai‘i Pauses to Reflect Upon Heroism and Valor on Veterans Day
Veterans Day services and ceremonies were held across the state as the public paused to remember those who have served the country with valor and heroism.
One such ceremony took place at the West Hawaiʻi Veterans Cemetery, where Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) joined Hawaiʻi Island veterans, family members and friends to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the end of World War I, and to honor America’s veterans for their service and sacrifice for our country.
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, who currently serves as a Major in the Hawaiʻi Army National Guard, and deployed twice to the Middle East, told the crowd of about 200 that we should look to our veterans as a living embodiment of the solution to our divided country.
“For our nation to understand how we can heal the divisive wounds that are tearing our country apart, and truly come together as one, we need look no further than to our veterans, who motivated by love and aloha, are willing to sacrifice all for our country,” Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said. “Veterans are the perfect example of individuals who are motivated out of love and aloha, willing to sacrifice themselves, their time, their interests, in service to our country and the American people.”
The service at the West Hawaiʻi Veterans Cemetery was hosted by American Legion Post 20 and other Hawaiʻi Island veteran organizations.
On Oʻahu, a sunset ceremony was held on board the Battleship Missouri Memorial at Pearl Harbor. All veterans were honored, both past and present, who have served the country with valor and heroism, and with many making the ultimate sacrifice. A special tribute was paid to “Korean War Veterans and the 65th Anniversary of the Korean War armistice.”
On June 25, 1950, thousands of soldiers from North Korea crossed the 38th parallel, a boundary between the northern and southern parts of the country. Both North and South Korea claimed to be the sole government, with neither side recognizing the border to be permanent. The invasion was the first military action of the Korean War. A few weeks later, American troops entered the war on South Korea’s behalf, soon followed by United Nation’s military support.
Rear Admiral Jon C. Kreitz presented the ceremony’s keynote address. Kreitz is the deputy director for the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency. The agency’s efforts are to find and identify the remains of missing Americans who are unaccounted for from past wars dating back to World War II and reconnect them with their families.
“We owe it to the families of our missing, we owe it to our nation, and we owe it to our veterans who served with them,” said Kreitz. “No one will ever be forgotten. We will stay the course for this mission until the job is done.”
Herbert Schreiner a retired Air Force Master Sergeant who fought in the Korean War served as the distinguished guest speaker. Currently, he is the president of the Korean War Veterans Association Hawaii Chapter 1. Schreiner recounted his experience as a soldier in the Korean War and the impression it continues to leave on him as a veteran.
“Us veterans always think about the sacrifice we give and how we gave our country the freedom to prosper and grow,” said Schreiner. “We were never forgotten. Ask a veteran, what is freedom? We earned it and gave it to the people of this country.”
The Korean War is often referred to as “The Forgotten War.” According to information compiled by the Battleship Missouri Memorial, the war never formally ended, and its memory is overshadowed by the victory of World War II in the 1940s and the controversy of the Vietnam War in the late-1960s and early-1970s.
USS Missouri Memorial Association board member Captain Michael A. Lilly, USN (Ret.) provided opening remarks. He is also a Vietnam War combat veteran and a retired Naval Reserve Captain.
“Sixty-five years ago, these heroes won a lasting peace over an armistice. Most returned to their families,” said Lilly. “More than 100,000 were injured, over 36,000 lost their lives they gave the ultimate sacrifice for freedom, and nearly 8,000 remain missing in action.”
After three years of bloodshed, an armistice was signed on July 27, 1953 creating the Korean Demilitarized Zone to separate North and South Korea. With both sides still divided, the 38th parallel continues to be the world’s most heavily fortified border, patrolled by troops and guarded with heavy artillery.