Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024|
Share this story
Motorcyclists drive down Kamehameha Avenue while leading the 15th annual Hawaii Island Veterans Day Parade Saturday in Hilo.
The Hilo High JROTC march together under Hawaii Electric Light Company's giant American flag during the 15th annual Hawaii Island Veterans Day Parade Saturday in Hilo.
Hundreds of people lined the streets of Hilo Saturday morning to celebrate and commemorate Hawaii County’s veterans.
Crowds gathered for the 15th annual Hawaii Island Veterans Day Parade to watch 61 organizations drive or walk through town during the event.
Yukio Okutsu Veterans State Home was stationed at its normal spot on Kamehameha Avenue where each organization was announced as they passed by on the route.
Renee Pulgados came to the parade to spend time with her mother outside of the Veterans Home, which can be rare for residents.
“My dad served and my mom lives at the Veterans Home, so I wanted to come out to be with her, think of my dad and support her other friends,” Pulgados said. “They do an awesome job at Yukio Okutsu, the entire staff makes sure everyone is taken care of. I know (the residents) are having wonderful time today and are happy to be out of the facility.”
This was Gulf War veteran James Turner’s seventh time participating in the parade with the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3875 from Hilo.
“It’s nice to see the community come out and to feel the positive energy from everyone,” Turner said. “This is a great way to fellowship together as veterans from Vietnam to Korea to Gulf War to Desert Storm. It’s really cool, actually.”
During the middle of the parade, military planes flew overhead to land at Hilo International Airport, which made the parade even more special as the crowd took in the sight.
Vietnam veteran Jack Roney attended the parade with his daughter, Beth DeYoung, where he enjoyed the fanfare, but the planes most of all.
“It went by too quick,” Roney said about the flyover. “I flew helicopters in the Army and started in the Air Force.”
Roney was excited that people came out with so much support for veterans and was thinking about how different the public felt during the Vietnam War.
During the parade, the crowd learned that “The Wall That Heals” will be coming to Hilo for the first time in January.
“The Wall that Heals” is a replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., designed to travel to communities throughout the U.S.
Hawaii Island service members who lost their lives because of the Vietnam War will be honored and there will be digital photo displays of Vietnam veterans from the area.
The mobile exhibit will arrive in Hilo on Monday, Jan. 22 and will be set up on Tuesday, Jan. 23.
The wall will be on display 24 hours a day from Wednesday, Jan. 24 until closing at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 28.
For more information on The Wall that Heals, visit thewallthatheals-hawaiicounty.org.
Retired Army Col. Debra Lewis, chair of the Veterans Day Parade, spent the morning biking along the route while supporting the parade participants and saying hi to attendees.
“This was the first time I’ve been able to circle the entire parade route due to our dream team of volunteers that came on board and took care of all these important details,” Lewis said. “I’m glad the new route worked out and brought many people to the parade. It’s everything I could have hoped.”
This week, the County of Hawaii Police Department will host the annual “Drive-By Salute” for the veterans at Yukio Okutsu Veterans State Home at 10 a.m. on Tuesday.
Email Kelsey Walling at email@example.com
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *