Veterans Day observances nationwide concluded with a sunset ceremony onboard the Battleship Missouri Memorial at Pearl Harbor. All veterans were honored, both past and present, who have served our country with valor and heroism, and with many making the ultimate sacrifice. A special tribute was made to “Celebrate the 160th Anniversary of the Medal of Honor, and Legacy of an American Hero and Statesman, Daniel K. Inouye.”
This year marks the 160th Anniversary of the Medal of Honor, the United States Armed Forces’ highest and most prestigious award for military valor in action. From the American Civil War to today, over 3,500 Medal of Honor distinctions have been awarded to service members who displayed bravery, courage, sacrifice and integrity in the moments that mattered most.
A special tribute was paid to Senator Daniel K. Inouye, one of the most memorable Hawai‘i Medal of Honor recipients, honoring his service, sacrifice and commitment to the nation and Hawai‘i’s communities.
Jennifer Sabas, Director of the Daniel K. Inouye Institute, presented the ceremony’s keynote address.
“The Senator was understated and a bit matter of fact. The descriptive words I remember him using were adrenaline and insanity – “act, react, and repeat” but just as quickly, he would say there were many other men in his unit who were equally brave, many who did not make it who were equally deserving and that his medal is really for all of them” said Sabas. “Whether they received medals or not, we as a nation owe our Veterans a debt of gratitude for their service and sacrifice, a debt we will never be able to fully repay and it should not just be on this day, but every day supporting those in need and honoring them always.”
Commander Dave Haile, Commanding Officer of the USS Daniel Inouye (DDG 118) was the ceremony’s first distinguished guest speaker who previously served as the USS Daniel Inouye’s Executive Officer.
“Although we must always be ready to answer a call to war, we have those who have gone before us to thank, for the years of watchful peace during which we have stood the watch” said Haile. “To those 40 million American Veterans who have served in the military since the Civil War, those 3,511 Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Airmen and one Coast Guardsman whose heroic actions earned them the Medal of Honor. Your service, your actions and your sacrifice have kept this country strong and safe. You have set an indelible example for those of us who serve today, and like Daniel Inouye, and all his former Veterans of the unit the famed 442nd we must never forget to go for broke.”
Rear Admiral Stephen Barnett, Commander of Navy Region Hawai‘i was the ceremony’s final distinguished guest speaker.
“This year we commemorate the 160th anniversary of our nation’s Medal of Honor and the thousands of American Veterans who exemplify the sentiments that President Calvin Coolidge said, No person, not a single person was ever honored for what he received, the honor has been the reward for what they gave” said Barnett. “Our nation’s Veterans have long served as fitting examples of selfless sacrifice and honorable life. Perhaps no greater example of honorable sacrifice and selfless service exists than the Medal of Honor recipient we remember today, the late Senator Daniel Inouye.”
Captain Jack Laufer, USCGR (Ret.) Board Member of the USS Missouri Memorial Association, caretaker of the Battleship Missouri Memorial, provided today’s opening remarks and spoke about the commitment to preserve the Mighty Mo and all that it represents.
“The Veterans I know served and not because they like to fight in wars, but mostly because they felt called to serve. Service is a calling, and not everyone is called to serve, but service to others is a common thread for all Veterans” said Laufer. “We here honor all those Veterans who stepped forward to serve our great nation and protect our freedom. The Board of Directors here are dedicated to sharing the USS Missouri’s legacy with visitors who come from around the world to see where history was made in times of war on the battleship that now stands as a symbol for peace and goodwill. Just as importantly, our Board is committed to preserving this memorial and all that it represents to Veterans and citizens nationwide and to the people of Hawai‘i.”
To view the entire Veterans Day Sunset Ceremony, click here.