KAPA‘A — Does patriotism still matter? To Shabd Edralin, it does.
The seventh-grade student at St. Catherine’s School in Kapa‘a was one of the participants in the annual Veterans Day parade Saturday in Kapa‘a, marching with Boy Scout Troop 828.
Edralin was named the winner of the “Does Patriotism Still Matter?” essay contest sponsored by the Veterans of Foreign Wars Patriotic Pen program.
In reading his winning essay, he said his parents join various community groups as a way to pay tribute and honor veterans.
The Scouts help clean gravestones during the Veterans Day and Memorial Day services. They also march in parades such as the one hosted by the Kapa‘a Business Association in Kapa‘a.
“Does patriotism still matter? To me, it does,” Edralin said.
Hundreds of community members spilled onto the sidewalks of Kuhio Highway in Kapa‘a town with similar sentiments, applauding and cheering as groups of veterans and armed forces were joined by community organizations in a tribute to veterans past and present and the armed forces of today.
Capt. Nicholas Mongillo, commanding officer of the Pacific Missile Range Facility in Mana, himself a war hero and a Top Gun instructor, said he would prefer to live in a world where armed forces are not necessary, wondering why we live in a world where we can’t get along.
The spirit of the veteran fired strong among the participants from Samuel Mahelona Memorial Hospital. The first out of the bus, Eugene Delos Reyes enthusiastically greeted fellow U.S. Marines, clapping them on the back and asking them, “Are you still in?”
“We thought we would only bring the veterans, but everyone wanted to come,” said Josie Pablo, the Mahelona recreation director. “We have eight veterans from World War II to the Vietnam War, and one nurse who just returned from Afghanistan.”
That nurse is Elizabeth Joyce, whose children are active Waimea High School students.
“I spent a year in Iraq, and followed that with a tour in Afghanistan,” Joyce said, helping a veteran in a wheelchair. “I’ve been away for two years, literally, and now, I need to catch up.”
Bill Honjiyo, the parade chair for the Kaua‘i Veterans Council, said a hero can be seen from two perspectives.
“From the eyes of a hero, ‘I am not a hero,’” Honjiyo said. “I was just doing my job, or my buddy was in trouble. These are modest people, unselfish, and quick to credit others for their deeds.”
That was the introduction for John Iwamoto and Rick Tomacder who served as parade Grand Marshals, both veterans of the Korean War, and recipients of medals for bravery and valor.
“To the observer, a hero rises above the call of duty to save lives, or to turn the tide,” Honjiyo said.
An officer from the Korean Republic joined the veterans of the Korean War, Saturday, noting that these men, young 60 years ago, sacrificed a lot for the Korean people.
“Korea wanted to do something for these people, so I represent the country and it is an honor to be part of this meaningful event,” the Korean naval officer said.
The public is invited to join the Kaua‘i Veterans Council during its annual Veterans Day service at 11 a.m. Thursday at the Hanapepe Veterans Cemetery.
Visit www.thegardenisland.com for a photo gallery from Saturday’s Veterans Day Parade.