The official opening of the new Molokai Veterans Center won’t take place until the new year after all the interior and parking lot work is completed.
But today, Veterans’ Day, the lack of fixtures or electricity at the new center on Wharf Road didn’t matter. What came out was the emotion of this day of remembrance as it was celebrated in the veterans’ new home. The issues surrounding the completion of the newly constructed center would be saved for another day.
Larry Helm, commander of the group Molokai Veterans Caring for Veterans, served as master of ceremonies. Dr. David Hafermann, a local vet and VA doctor, spoke about the meaning of being a veteran.
Alice Kono, 90, a World War II veteran who served in Navy intelligence, honored the different groups of veterans who served in various wars.
Robert Baptiste, a Hoolehua resident who served in the Vietnam War, talked about how Larry Helm and the other local veterans have been there for him.
Finally, Teri Waros, owner of Kalele Bookstore, talked about growing up in a military family and the gratitude she feels to all veterans.
Throughout all the speeches, the themes of freedom and sacrifice could be heard. The mood of the audience of mostly veterans and their families was somber, serious and emotional.
A band of veterans played a song before the formal part of the ceremony ended. Fred Bicoy then blew taps on his trumpet while the Molokai Rainbows, a group of trained pigeons, was released.