PEARL HARBOR (NNS) - The historic Battleship Missouri Memorial aboard Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam was the setting for a Veterans Day Sunset Ceremony in which hundreds of active and retired service members attended Nov. 11.
During the ceremony, Army Maj. Gen. Robert G. Lee, the adjutant general for the State of Hawaii and the keynote speaker for the event, reflected on the changes that he has seen in the military during his nearly four decades of service. He also spoke about the dedication service members continue to exude.
"It has truly been a magnificent journey for me these past 39 years serving on active duty, in the Army Reserves and now in the National Guard," said Lee. "When I was first commissioned in 1971, a long, long time ago, we did not have stealth technology or smart bombs. Cruise missiles, like the ones that the 'Mighty Mo' used during the Persian Gulf War, were just being imagined by defense contractors; but what has changed very dramatically, more than the hardware, is the culture and the development of the people in the armed services of the United States.
"I take nothing away from the veterans of WWII, Korea or Vietnam, but today's Soldier, Sailor, Airman, Marine and Coast Guardsman, you will find very different. I have seen them in action in all of my eight years in Iraq, Afghanistan and Djibouti, and they are just outstanding. On average, the service member today is better educated, is married and has a family and has more responsibility relative to their rank than ever before," said Lee.
Afterward, veterans and current service members at the event were called upon by Lee to be recognized and received a standing ovation during the ceremony.
Hawaiian native Herbert Weatherwax, a 93-year-old Army veteran who survived the Pearl Harbor attack and fought in Battle of the Bulge during WWII, shared how he felt after the ceremony.
"I have always strongly backed our veterans and service members," said Weatherwax. "My legs aren't as good as they once were, but I used to participate as a flag bearer at Punch Bowl for these events. Veterans Day is a symbolic day that I think should be kept alive for as long as we are a nation."
The event was capped- off with a view of a Hawaiian sunset.
Barbara Mathews, a videographer, documented the ceremony for the Battleship Missouri Memorial Association and paid special notice to the horizon.
"I think that our remembered veterans had a lot to do with that beautiful sunset," said Mathews.
Veterans Day is a federal holiday held annually Nov. 11 since 1919, to honor service members past and present.
For more news from Commander, Navy Region Hawaii, visit http://www.navy.mil/local/cnrh/.