Friday | May 22, 2015
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Saluting those who served

Monday is Veterans Day — a time to take a moment to stop and not only thank, but honor and remember America’s military personnel for their service and sacrifice.

West Hawaii will host several services this year to commemorate those who protected the nation during war and peace.

c At the West Hawaii Veterans Cemetery, located north of Kailua-Kona, the public is invited to take part in the annual Veterans Day program, hosted by the Kona chapter of the Disabled American Veterans. The event starts at 11 a.m. Monday and features a service, guest speaker and luncheon. A blessing is planned for a new prisoner of war/missing in action memorial at the cemetery.

This year’s guest speaker is U.S. Army Air Corps Staff Sgt. Wesley Wells, said Marine Corps Sgt. Minuro Hanato, who serves as the DAV’s treasurer. Wells served in Europe during World War II as a B-17 ball turret gunner. He is also a former POW.

With the event expected to draw about 400 people, attendees are asked to arrive a half-hour early.

Parking at the top of the cemetery is limited to those requiring handicap-accessible parking, Hanato said. Others are asked to drop off passengers at the top, then park alongside the cemetery’s access road and take a DAV-provided shuttle to the event.

c For those in North Hawaii, the Kohala National Guard Alumni will host its annual Veterans Day ceremony to remember those who served. The ceremony begins at 11 a.m. Monday at Hisaoka Gym at the county’s Kamehameha Park in Kapaau. A free luncheon will follow.

Several guest speakers are lined up for the ceremony, including Mayor Billy Kenoi. The Veterans Day address will be made by Pohakuloa Training Area Command Sgt. Maj. Jonathan Lutgens.

c For those residing in Ka‘u and the southern portion of the Big Island, the Kilauea Military Camp will host its annual Veterans Day ceremony at 3 p.m. Monday.

The keynote speaker will be Lt. Col. Eric Shwedo, who commands the Pohakuloa Training Area. The event’s guest speaker will be Senior Master Sgt. Makani Miller of the 291st Combat Communications Squadron in Hilo.

Veterans Day is always observed on Nov. 11, regardless of the day of the week on which it falls. The holiday commemorates the end of World War I, which occurred on the 11th hour of the 11th day or the 11th month of 1919, and was termed Armistice Day by then-President Woodrow Wilson, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

In June 1926, Congress passed a resolution that its anniversary should be commemorated and by 1939, Nov. 11 became a federal holiday. In 1954, Armistice Day was dropped in favor of Veterans Day, according to the department.